The international day
 12 October 2005
 The Secretary-General
 Press kit
 Conclusion from expert
 Media events
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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.”

2005 World Disaster Reduction awareness campaign focuses on reducing risk using micro-finance tools and safety nets

This year, the theme of the ISDR International Day for Disaster Reduction and campaign aims at increasing disaster resilience using micro-finance and safety nets. Our objective is twofold: to sensitise the social and financial communities and institutions on their potential role in reducing disaster risk, and to raise awareness in the disaster and risk management community of the utility of existing financial tools and safety nets to reduce the vulnerability of hazard-prone populations.

Hazards are a major risk for the poor and marginalized, who are already the most vulnerable in society; the destruction of property and livelihoods furthers their downward cycle of poverty. The recent tsunami and earthquakes in the Indian Ocean are a tragic example of disaster vulnerability and how communities can be reduced to extreme poverty in a matter of hours.

Investing in disaster risk reduction reduces the vulnerability of people to hazards and helps break the vicious cycle of poverty.

Photos: IFRC
The Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters” recognises in its priority areas the reduction of the underlying risk factors to build a safer world and identified a number of measures that will help reduce the impact of hazards on poor populations.

The Hyogo Framework for Action recommends to:

  • Strengthen the Implementation of social safety net mechanisms to assist the poor and other populations affected by disasters.
  • Promote diversified income options for populations in high risks areas to reduce their vulnerability to hazards.
  • Promote the development of financial risk sharing mechanisms particularly insurance and reinsurance against disasters.
  • Promote the establishment of public private partnerships to better engage the private sector in disaster risk reduction activities.

To achieve the Millennium Developments Goals and reduce poverty before 2015, we must find mechanisms that work and actively implement them.

Micro credit has proven its value in many countries as a weapon against poverty and hunger. With access to micro credit, people with low incomes can earn more and better protect themselves against unexpected setbacks and losses. Micro credit and micro finance in general are not yet fully utilized as tools for reducing disaster impacts, but some concrete experiences in India and Bangladesh have shown their potential and highlight the need to further explore these opportunities. The use of micro finance for disaster risk management is still somewhat experimental, but communities should explore its various flexible approaches and impacts for poverty reduction.

The UN General Assembly designated the year 2005 as the International Year of Micro credit (resolution 53/197), stating that the Year will provide an important opportunity to give impetus to microfinance programmes throughout the world.

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) are coordinating the Year and organizing a series of events throughout the world. For more information about the campaign, please see: http://www.yearofmicrocredit.org

The five key objectives for the Year are designed to unite Member States, UN Agencies and Microfinance Partners. To ultimately achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Year aims to:

  1. Assess and promote the contribution of micro finance and micro credit to the MDGs;
  2. Increase public awareness and understanding of micro finance and micro credit as vital parts of the development equation;
  3. Promote inclusive financial sectors;
  4. Support sustainable access to financial services, and
  5. Encourage innovation and new partnerships by promoting and supporting strategic partnerships to build and expand the outreach and success of micro credit and micro finance.

Within the International Year of Micro credit 2005, the ISDR Secretariat and partners would like to stimulate a debate and promote dialogue on how safety nets, micro credit and micro insurance can contribute to disaster risk reduction.

In contributing to the campaign, ISDR will:

  • Encourage partners and experts to review the available safety nets to address vulnerability and poverty reduction, and look for potential new mechanisms that can reduce the impact of hazards.
  • Promote national and local roundtables with micro-finance institutions, commercial banks, insurance companies, NGOs, CBOs and disaster reduction experts.
  • Invite national platforms for disaster reduction and other local and national counterparts to discuss and develop programmes of social and economic safety nets for the poor to increase their resilience and recovery capacity to disasters.
  • Collect good practice and experiences: you are invited to send us your case studies and experiences to be included in our information products and media briefs.
  • Invite decision-makers and NGOs involved in recovery efforts for the Indian Ocean tsunami and earthquakes to develop capacities for long-term disaster risk reduction. Please share with us your views on how micro finance and safety nets could be useful tools in the recovery process.

To broaden the basis of knowledge and innovation, we encourage nominations of candidates with relevant experience and good practice related to micro finance, poverty reduction, safety nets and disaster reduction to apply for the 2005-nomination process of the Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction.

The ISDR Secretariat, in collaboration with other UN agencies and NGOs working on micro-finance, will contribute to the International Year of Micro credit, organising events throughout the world that will culminate with the International day for Disaster Reduction on the 12TH of October 2005