As the world celebrates World Humanitarian Day, UNISDR, the strategic arm of the United Nations working on disaster risk reduction, recognizes the valuable contribution of humanitarian workers who risk their lives everyday to help others, whilst emphasizing their crucial role in reducing disaster risk.
“On this day we recognize the importance of humanitarians in providing essential relief and services. More importantly we also celebrate their role in helping communities reduce their risk to disasters,” said Margareta Wahlström, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.
The important role of humanitarians is generally acknowledged following disasters, however reducing the risk of communities to disasters and building their resilience is the best humanitarian action.
Last year’s earthquake in Haiti, the floods in Pakistan and Australia, this year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the current on-going drought crisis in the Horn of Africa, are harsh reminders of the debilitating effects of disasters on communities. For example the Pakistan floods disrupted economic growth, agricultural production, and cost around US$12 billion. The Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011 caused at least US$300 billion in damage.
“Risk reduction lessens disaster impact. Anticipating events well in advance reduces the suffering of millions and helps avert catastrophes that warrant massive humanitarian response,” says Wahlström.