Government auditors talk risk reduction as quake hits

 
By Dizery Salim

GENEVA, 27 October 2011 - Disaster risk reduction was high on the agenda as government auditors met in Turkey this week to discuss accountability and good practices in the area of disaster-related aid, against the tragic backdrop of Sunday’s 7.2 quake that left over 400 dead and 2,000-plus buildings destroyed.

The Fifth Meeting of the Working Group on Accountability for and Audit of Disaster-related Aid, chaired by Gijs de Vries of the European Court of Auditors, concluded yesterday in Antalya after three days, and was convened by the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI).

The Working Group was addressed for the first time by the UN disaster reduction chief, Margareta Wahlström, who welcomed the possibility of the UN office for disaster risk reduction, UNISDR, cooperating with national audit offices to identify threats or opportunities in disaster risk reduction and monitor implementation of government commitments.

Ms. Wahlström said national auditors at the meeting expressed interest in creating an audit framework for disaster risk reduction, and were planning to complete the first draft next year.

“External auditors are a great ally for the disaster risk community because they are in a unique position to ensure that money is spent in a risk resilient way,” said Ms. Wahlström.

“But we’re only just starting down that road. Right now, most audits are focused on monitoring how humanitarian aid is spent. But given the rise in disaster losses, it’s more important than ever to consider how money is spent on issues beyond emergency response, such as making sure disaster-prone communities are built back better.”

She said the Working Group recognized that a draft audit framework should be based on work already being done by the disaster reduction community – a wide-ranging group of governments, non-governmental organizations, parliamentarians, representatives of the private sector, academics, members of civil society and international organizations nurtured by UNISDR since its inception in 2000.

UNISDR’s own work with the disaster reduction community, in turn, is based on a six-year old framework, the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), agreed by 168 UN member States in 2005 as a blueprint for reducing disaster losses.

Countries respond every two years to a survey called the “HFA monitor,” created by UNISDR, which measures progress against a slew of indicators, such as how well governments are integrating disaster risk reduction into their economic planning, and whether it is incorporated in their post-disaster recovery and response programmes. Results of the survey are analyzed by UNISDR and published in its biennial Global Assessment Report for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Ms. Wahlström said she was encouraged by the show of interest by INTOSAI, adding that an audit mechanism for disaster risk funding would contribute to true aid effectiveness.
Regional Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction take place from Africa to the Pacific Regional Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction take place from Africa to the Pacific.
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