1. Development at Risk
1.4 Disaster Risk and the Millennium Development Goals: A Framework for Action
incentive for rethinking disaster risk as an integral part of
the development process comes from the aim of achieving the goals
laid out in the Millennium Declaration. The Declaration sets
forth a road map for human development supported by 191 nations.
Eight Millennium Development Goals were agreed upon in 2000,
which in turn have been broken down into 18 targets with 48 indicators
for progress. Most
goals are set for achievement by 2015.
The MDGs contain
cross-cutting themes in development and disaster risk policy,
each tied to specific targets and indicators for progress. They
require international collaboration to be met. All signatory
countries now claim to be working toward these goals and donors
are providing sharply focused aid packages to support their endeavours.
The risk to
development stemming from natural disaster is recognised in the
Millennium Declaration in Section IV, entitled “Protecting
Our Common Future”.Within this section is stated the objective: “to
intensify our collective efforts to reduce the number and effects
of natural and man-made disasters”.( United Nations. 2000. United
Nations Millennium Declaration, General Assembly Resolution A/RES/55/2,
18 September 2000, p. 6.)
occur when societies or communities are exposed to potentially
hazardous events, such as extremes of rainfall, temperature or
wind speed or tectonic movements, and when people are unable
to absorb the impact or recover from the hazardous impact. While
it is commonplace to talk about natural disasters, both vulnerability
and hazard are conditioned by human activities. Reducing the
number and effects of natural disasters means tackling the development
challenges that lead to the accumulation of hazard and human
vulnerability that prefigure disaster.
of disaster risk and the unequal distribution of disaster impacts
prompt a questioning of the development paths that have been
taken by countries more or less at risk from disaster. Natural
disasters destroy development gains, but development processes
themselves play a role in driving disaster risk. To follow the
example quoted earlier, when a school built without earthquake
resistance collapses during a tremor, is this an example of disaster
risk undoing development, or of inappropriate development prefiguring
The MDGs direct
development planning towards priority goals. Each of these goals
will interact with disaster risk. On the surface, these goals
will contribute to a reduction of human vulnerability to natural
hazard. But it is the processes undertaken in meeting each goal
that will determine the extent to which disaster risk is reduced.
Building schools is not enough for a sustainable and long-term
development gain, schools exposed to natural hazard must be disaster
resistant, and people using them need to prepare for disaster.
a two-way relationship between the kind of development planning
that can lead to the achievement of the MDGs and the development
processes that are currently associated with an accumulation
of disaster risk. Unless disaster risk considerations are factored
into all development related to the MDGs, well-meaning efforts
to increase social and economic development might inadvertently
increase disaster risk. At the same time, the realisation of
existing (let alone future) levels of risk will slow down and
undermine efforts to achieve the MDGs.
responsibility for achieving MDGs lies with individual countries.
To date, 29
countries have published Millennium Development Goal Reports.
BOX 1.2 TH MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS AND DISASTER RISK REDUCTION
The Millennium Declaration contains a statement of values and objectives for
the international agenda for the XXI century. Eight Millennium Development
Goals, based on the Millennium Declaration, have been approved by the General
Assembly as part of a road map for the implementation of the Declaration. These
are set out below and each one’s relationship with disaster risk is highlighted.
Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger
To halve the proportion of people whose income is less
than one dollar a day
ii) To halve the number of people who suffer from hunger
DRI proves through statistical analysis a long-held theoretical
position that human vulnerability to natural hazards
and income poverty are largely co-dependent. At the national
level, reducing disaster risk is often contingent upon
alleviating poverty and vice versa. Exposure to hazards
can play a critical role in places where poverty expresses
itself as a lack of entitlement to acquire basic nutritional
needs. Hunger reduces individual capacity to cope with
disaster stress and shock and disasters can destroy assets
leading to hunger. The economic and political underpinnings
of hunger, particularly within complex political emergencies,
are well documented. (Sen, Amartya. 2000. Development
as Freedom, New York, Random House.)
Achieving universal primary education
To ensure that children everywhere — boys and girls
alike — complete a full course of primary education
attainment is a fundamental determinant of human vulnerability
and marginalisation. Basic literacy and numeric skills
enable individuals to become more engaged in their society.
Broadening participation in development decision-making
is a central tenet of disaster risk reduction.
The destruction of schools is one very direct way in which disasters
can inhibit educational attainment, but perhaps more important is the
drain on household resources that slow and sudden-onset disasters inflict.
Households frequently have to make difficult decisions on expending resources
on survival and coping with
poverty, or on investments (such as education and health care) to alleviate
human vulnerability and enhance longer-term development prospects. Unfortunately,
for the poorest, there is no choice and human vulnerability deepens as
resources are targeted towards survival.
Promoting gender equality and empowering women
Eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education,
preferably by 2005, and in all levels by 2015.
the participation of women and girls in the development
process, including efforts to reduce disaster risk, is
a key priority. Women across the world play critical
roles in the shaping of risks in development. In some
contexts, women may be more exposed to and vulnerable
to hazards. For example, those with responsibilities
in the household may be more exposed to risk due to unsafe
building and from local hazards stemming from inadequate
basic services or exposure to smoke from cooking fuel.
At the same time, women are often more likely than men
to participate in communal actions to reduce risk and
enhance development. Orienting disaster risk policy so
that it builds on the social capital represented by women
can enable a more informed development policy. As criticisms
of participatory development indicate, achieving such
a model will not be easy, but best practice does exist
to point the way.
women face barriers in participating at higher levels
of decision-making, this severely limits the
skills and knowledge available for sustainable development and risk reduction.
Overcoming disparities in access to education is a fundamental component
of the disaster risk reduction agenda.
Reducing child mortality
Reduce infant and under-five mortality rates by two-thirds
under five years of age are particularly vulnerable to
the impacts of environmental hazards ranging from the
everyday risks of inadequate sanitation and drinking
water to death and injury following catastrophic events
and their aftermath. The loss of care givers and household
income earners and the stress of displacement can have
especially heavy tolls on the psychological and physical
health of children under five years of age. Policies
aiming to support sustainable development paths by reducing
child mortality need to build in strategies to limit
or reduce disaster risk.
Improving maternal health
Reduce maternal mortality ratios by three-quarters
environmental hazard stress or shock erodes the savings
and capacities of households and families, marginal people
within these social groups are most at risk. In many
cases it is women and girls or the aged who have least
entitlement to household or family assets. Maternal health
is a strategic indicator of intra- and inter-household
equality. Reducing drains on household assets through
risk reduction will contribute to enhancing maternal
health. More direct measures through investment in education
and health will similarly contribute to household resilience
as maternal health indicators improve. Children have
already been identified as a high-risk group and maternal
health plays a part in shaping the care received by young
Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
ii) Halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major
interactions between epidemiological status and human
vulnerability to subsequent stresses and shocks are well
documented. For example, rural populations affected by
HIV/AIDS are less able to cope with the stress of drought
because of a shortage of labour. Individuals living with
chronic terminal diseases are more susceptible to the
physiological stress of hunger. For diseases transmitted
through vectors, there is a risk of epidemic following
floods or drought, similarly the destruction of drinking
water, sanitation and health care infrastructure in catastrophic
events can increase the risk of disease.
Ensuring environmental sustainability
Integrate the principles of sustainable development into
country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of
ii) Halve the proportion of people without sustainable safe drinking
iii) By 2020, achieve a significant improvement in the lives of at least
100 million slum dwellers
disasters, or the accumulation of risk from regular and
persistent but smaller events, can wipe out any hope
of sustainable urban or rural environments. Again, the
equation works both ways. Increasing destruction due
to landslides, floods and other disasters related to
environmental and land-use patterns are a clear signal
that massive challenges remain in achieving this MDG.
The target of achieving a significant improvement in
the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the
year 2020 will be impossible without developing policies
to confront their currently high risk from earthquake,
tropical cyclones, flooding and drought.
Developing a global partnership for development
Address the least developed countries’ special needs
and the special needs of landlocked and small island developing
ii) Deal comprehensively with developing countries’ debt problems
iii) Develop decent and productive work for youth
iv) In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable
essential drugs in developing countries
v) In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits
of new technologies —especially information and communications
to enhance sustainable development and reduce human vulnerability
to natural hazard are hampered by national debt burdens,
terms of international trade, the high price of key drugs,
lack of access to new technology and new hazards associated
with global climate change.
in reaching international agreement on a range of issues,
for example at the World Summit on Sustainable Development
in Johannesburg in 2002 and the World Trade Organisation
meeting at Cancun in 2003, highlight the efforts needed
to build a global partnership for development that might
contribute to disaster risk reduction.
of progress at the international level include cooperation
between states at high risk from natural disaster that
has increased their negotiating power. In the case of
small island developing states, the Association of Small
Island States has been active in climate change talks.
Within the machinery of international organisations,
Task-Force constitutes a good example of global partnership
for development and disaster risk reduction.