On the occasion of the International Day for Disaster Reduction, to be held on 12 October 2005, and to mark the International Year of Microcredit, the Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) is launching a global debate on how microfinance can reduce the impact of natural disasters on vulnerable communities.

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and more recently Hurricane Katrina in the United States and the earthquake in Pakistan and India demonstrated once again that the poor usually suffer most from disasters occuring from natural disasters, as they often live and work in highly vulnerable locations. Microcredit is a useful tool for poverty reduction, but its potential to reduce the impact of disasters needs to be further explored.

UN/ISDR asked experts and colleagues from various backgrounds to share their points of view on the issue. These are summarised in 10 conclusions, and available in detail in the document Invest to Prevent Disaster .

There are many examples throughout the world of successful disaster risk reduction through microfinance. Some case studies can be found here, while expert opinions and experiences are available here. A case produced by the Kenyan Red Cross will be presented by the IFRC at the Geneva press briefing.

Many organisations and institutions are involved in microfinance for disaster reduction. A selection of links can be found here.

To celebrate the International Day for Disaster Reduction, UN/ISDR and its partners are organising various events around the world. A number of financial experts, disaster managers and UN specialists will gather on 14 and 15 October in New Delhi, India, to discuss the impacts of microfinance in countries affected by the tsunami last December. Other events will also take place in Geneva, Switzerland; Bangkok, Thailand; and Dushanbe, Tajikistan to promote dialogue on the potential of using microfinance tools to reduce disaster risk and increase community resilience. ISDR will prepare a publication on the results of the debate by the end of the year for wide dissemination.


New York, 12 October 2005
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The past year has reminded people everywhere that no place in the world is immune from natural disaster. From the massive Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami to the drought- and locust-ravaged countries of Africa, from the devastation caused by hurricanes and cyclones in the United States, the Caribbean and the Pacific to heavy flooding across Europe and Asia, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives, and millions their livelihoods, to natural disasters.

The lesson we must draw is encapsulated in the theme of this year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction: “Invest to prevent disaster.” We cannot stop natural calamities, but we can and must better equip individuals and communities to withstand them. Those most vulnerable to nature’s wrath are usually the poorest, which means that when we reduce poverty, we also reduce vulnerability.

In this International Year of Microcredit, we should recognize that microfinance can do much to help empower those with little or no access to traditional financial institutions, thereby reducing disaster risk and improving disaster management. By diversifying the income of high-risk populations and promoting disaster insurance, microfinance can strengthen coping mechanisms before disasters, while hastening recovery afterwards.

These are the type of innovative approaches called for in the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015, adopted at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in January, and reaffirmed in September at the World Summit at United Nations Headquarters in New York. On this International Day, after a year in which we should all have learned profound lessons, I call on governments at all levels, international organizations, civil society groups, and the private sector to implement this framework and invest in poverty reduction and disaster prevention, in order to build resilient communities and save lives.

Salvano Briceño, director of the UN/ISDR secretariat
“Investing in disaster risk reduction reduces the vulnerability of people to hazards and helps break the vicious cycle of poverty. We need to engage the micro finance community into a dialogue on reducing the impact of natural hazards on populations and livelihoods "

"Micro finance is a successful tool to empower women to help reduce their poverty and therefore, their vulnerability to disasters.”

Media events
Broadcasters and Disaster Reduction Agencies Join Hands
to reduce Disaster Impact

12 October – Geneva/Kuala Lumpur/Hong Kong -- CNN International, the United Nations and the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union have launched an effort to build greater public awareness and preparation for natural disasters by increasing media messages to mass audiences in recognition of the International day for Disaster Reduction today.
Invest to prevent disaster
ProVention Consortium / IIASA
Viewpoint for International Day for Disaster Reduction –12 October 2005
The potential benefits and limitations of micro-insurance as a risk transfer mechanism for developing countries
Major International Symposium on Disaster Prevention - MunichRe
Munich Re, the worldwide leading reinsurance company, set up a foundation in April this year. The foundation has many goals, a major one is to prepare people to better cope with risk and to improve their living conditions. It will organise a major International Symposium on Disaster Prevention to be held in Munich/Hohenkammer on November 16 and 17, 2005.
MRF Symposium
Press release
International Day For Disaster Reduction
Invest to prevent disasters

UN/ISDR 2005/28
Tuesday 11 October 2005
Disaster Reduction Libraries
Indonesia will be the First Country to Receive the Blue Trunk
UN/ISDR 2005/30
Wednesday 12 October 2005

International Day for Disaster Reduction
Invest To Prevent Disasters - Dushanbe
UN/ISDR 2005/31
Wednesday 12 October 2005

Microfinance is a tool that has successfully been utilized to improve livelihood options and reduce poverty. It has hardly been used yet as a tool for reducing risk vulnerability to natural hazards. Leading up to the International Day for Disaster reduction (12 October 2005), the ISDR secretariat will promote dialogue with the microfinance community on the possibility of using these tools to reduce disaster risk and increase community resilience to disasters.
Press kit: English - Spanish
Launch of the Nigeria National Platform for Disaster Reduction

13-14 October, Abuja, Government of Nigeria
UN/ISDR Africa Outreach (ISDR-Africa@unep.org)
High-Level Roundtable Discussion on the Potential of Microfinance for Tsunami Recovery
14-15 October, New Delhi, National Institute of Disaster Mangement (NIDM), All India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI) and UNISDR
Daniel Kull (daniel.kull@unisdrafrica.org)
Praveen Pardeshi (pardeshi@un.org)
High-Level Roundtable Discussion on Disaster Risk Reduction and Microfinance

12 October
DushanbeUN/ISDR Asia Outreach
Tine Ramstad (tine.ramstad@undp.org)
Launch of the first " Disaster reduction library" in presence of the President of the Republic of Indonesia
Presidential Palace Jakarta, 12 October
UN/ISDR Geneva and UNDP Jakarta
Marie-Lou Darricau (darricau@un.org)
Terry Jeggle (jeggle@un.org)
Official ceremony of the Sasakawa award

Bangkok, 12 October
UN/ISDR Asia and the Pacific
Christel Rose (rosec@un.org)
Click here for information about the Sasakawa award

Press Briefing, 11 October, Palais des Nations, Room 3, 11.30 am
UN/ISDR Secretariat, Munich Re, Deutsche Bank, Provention Consortium, IFRC
Brigitte Leoni (leonib@un.org)
See more events