Wednesday, July 1, 2015

This morning I received an email from UNISDR on the official publication of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. You can access it here.

So, today I am thinking again about the root causes of vulnerability, and whether the new Sendai Framework helps address these root causes.

One of the early models that most DRR professionals are familiar with, is the "Pressure and Release" (PAR) model, developed by Blaikie et al in 1994 and published in the seminal book "At Risk" by Ian Davis, Ben Wisner, Terry Cannon and Piers Blaikie. Here is the PAR model in a basic form:

And here is a nice, basic diagram of how this model was applied to analyze the progression of vulnerability to industrial hazards in Bathinda district in Punjab:

(Image courtesy, accessed 1 July, 2015)

Finally, I particularly like the example from the "At Risk" book on the Sudan famine, as it demonstrates one of the salient features of PAR model which is facilitating a deeper look into the political economy in order to trace root causes of vulnerability:

What do you think? Does the Sendai Framework advance our thinking and ability to address root causes of vulnerability? Will a result of this be tangible resilience for people at risk, communities and nations?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Final day #6AMCDRR - Release of the Bangkok Declaration

We are here in the great Convention Hall A of the Bangkok Convention Center, awaiting the SRSG and announcement of the successful 10-hour grueling drafting process yesterday of the Bangkok Declaration.

It has been an extraordinary week... in my opinion perhaps the most momentous platform since the first one in 2007.

I just received a copy of the declaration...everyone has taken their places, and we are beginning...

Download it here

This document has undergone intensive consultations over the past two years...including by IGOs, NGOs, and many stakeholder groups...highlights here:
  • development and implementation of strategies for integration of climate change, sustainable development and DRR - towards building resilience of communities and nations - focusing on the local level
  • prevent and reduce risk
  • partner with private sector
  • ensure social inclusion
  • strengthen measures for achieving resilience to disasters
  • strengthen role of women
  • promote use of science and technology
  • enhance risk, governance and accountability
Stakeholder Voluntary Commitments
  1. Civil Society voluntary commitments read by Many Gupta...highlighting a people-centered approach
  2. Disability Organizations securing a solid place in #DRR policy and decision making, and at the Sendai table
  3. IFRC hilghlights - continues support to inclusive DRR and building community resilience, assisting corporate partners, linking CSR initiatives with IFRC national societies
  4. Women's organizations, represented by Vishaka - we urge improvement in women's participation - minimum target of 30% in next high level discussions. Awareness raising amongst officials, piloting sex disaggregated data highlights.
  5. Mayors and local governments - President of the Local Association of Punjab - Highlights-technical guidelines for local governments, focusing on risk assessment, planning and implementation, promoting 'My City and Town are Getting Ready' with "YOU ARE NOT ALONE" slogan
  6. Media voluntary commitments - bridge gaps in communications which many stakeholders face... we serve wide audiences, including women, children and persons with disabilities.. we will proactively report before, during and after disasters.. Ensure radio and TV organizations are integrated into early warning and national and community levels... Engage media into national DRR activities so we can inform the public on risk prevention. Enhance journalist capacities... on the same..
  7. Children and youth - we represent 40% of Asian population - reading 5 concrete and concise commitments - and whose 'tenacious, dedicated advocacy' is 'admirable'
  8. Parliamentarians - Senator Rodriguez reads powerful highlights focusing on legislation, governance, manaagement of urbanization - need for new risk management appraoch that supports Post2015 agenda making DRM imperative to sustainable development
Women represent half the population, we are not just a 'vulnerable group'... Vishaka Hidellage

Bangkok Declaration being read...and subsequently adopted.  Floor was open to two final comments by participants. The first, a representative of the farmers of Bangladesh, noted the game-changing role of SRSG Margareta Wahlström in the building of a world-wide movement to build resilience...calling us to "Let us be a good human, while we are a DRR practitioner, supporting mother Earth to live longer..." Jonathan Schott, of a small Thai NGO Sustainable Development Foundation, expressed concern over a lack of civil society consultation before adoption of the Bangkok Declaration.

The plenary closed with award ceremonies, final words from the Thai Permanent Secretary, Ms. Wahlström, and a remarkable performance of modern dance and music.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Road to Sendai: 6th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction

สวัสดีค่ะ sa-wat-dii, khâ -  A warm hello from Bangkok! I am here all week with some 2,500 5,000 delegates from more than 39 countries in Asia-Pacific who will be tasked to “shape future efforts to build more resilient communities and nations".

The outcome of this meeting will have long-term significance for the world at large as recommendations will feed into a new global agreement on disaster risk reduction (DRR), which will replace the current Hyogo Framework for Action, adopted in 2005 by all UN member-states following the Indian Ocean tsunami.   

"When Asia speaks on disaster risk management, the rest of the world listens. The region suffers more than 80 percent of the world’s disaster events", said Margareta Wahlstrom, UNISDR head and the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on DRR. “Nine of the world’s 10 most significant natural disasters by fatalities last year occurred in the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Japan and China. Some 14,500 lives were lost in tropical cyclones, floods,  heat waves and earthquakes." 

The meeting is the last of the series of regional platforms in the lead-up to the World Conference next March in Sendai, Japan. Second. It is one of the last multi-stakeholder meetings prior to the World Conference, (#WCDRR or 3WCDRR). As such, it's a key opportunity to feed into the drafting process of the second Hyogo Framework for Action (#HFA2).

There is an intense process going on of multiple streams of inputs into the Post-2015 process... and one of these inputs is the HFA2. The second will be a climate change agreement, and the third - the Millenium Development Goals. For more on where we are, I find this diagram really helpful:

Post-2015 process at a glance (Source:

I will be blogging live this week, and will post a number of interviews to give a flavour of the meeting and provide a glimpse of the happenings of the week. I am also conscious that there are a number of people who perhaps are not able to be in Bangkok but would like to, so please feel free to post, tweet or email questions and I will do my best to respond. So in this way I hope that my presence here would serve to help make the process in the road to Sendai just a bit more inclusive.

ขอขอบคุณคุณ - thanks...looking forward to sharing the week with you!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Envisioning our Future - Risk or Resilience?


A Perfectly Good Evening..the view from Bali, May 31, 2014

 A gorgeous view: grand expanse of a sunset arching over the infamous surf... rich conversation on how our future child focussed DRR model will be...defining the boundaries of the 1 of our national DRR consultation starts very well.

This serene scene is punctuated by the news of 'a sustained, rather significant eruption of Sangean Api' in the south, 'sending large volumes of volcanic ash into the air', grounding scores of flights... and looming over tomorrow's field research site -Sumba. So, our tomorrow now looks more like this...quite a different picture than when we started some hours ago. (Image thanks-Dr. Roy Spencer)

Off we go hunting face masks which I hope will be adequate for my friend who has asthma. This is the way of the future! The future is now! In my day, disasters become the norm, not the anomale. And how do we cope? Are we risk and resilience minded? Is this thinking intrinsic in our daily lives, and way of doing business? Or do they take us by surprise, stealing from a perfectly good evening with friends at the beach, darkening a perfect sunset with elegant yet potentially deadly ash plumes?  Or much worse, erasing years of memory, hopes, dreams of a bright future. These are our questions. These are our children's questions.  Over the next week , we will listen closely to voices of ChildFund staff, partners and children and youth of Boyalali, Yog Yakarta, Sumba and Jakarta...and we will share our learning journey with you.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

'The Survival and Wellbeing of a Generation of Innocents' in Syria

Today was a major milestone - the one million mark. One million children refugees today, August 22, 2013.  "A shameful milestone", reports UNICEF.

This 1 millionth child refugee is not just another number," said Anthony Lake, executive director of Unicef, the UN agency for children. "This is a real child ripped from home, maybe even from a family, facing horrors we can only begin to comprehend. He added: "We must all share the shame, because while we work to alleviate the suffering of those affected by this crisis, the global community has failed in its responsibility to this child. We should stop and ask ourselves how, in all conscience, we can continue to fail the children of Syria. - Anthony Lake, UNICEF

The largest refugee crisis in 20 years prompted the UN to launch their largest appeal in history - a $5 billion emergency appeal. With half of all fleeing refugees children, and 75% of these under 11 years of age, the needs are staggering. More than 100,000 killed in the conflict, at least 7,000 of these children. Less than 20% of these children have received any kind of psycho-social support, and the Syrian regional response appeal is less than 40% funded - $1.9 billion short. 40,000 refugees have crossed the border this week alone. As Antonio Guterres said:

The youth of Syria are losing their homes, their family members and their futures...Even after they have cross the border to safety, they are traumatized, depressed and in need of hope.

The Guardian's Mark Tran sheds light on the impacts of this crisis on children while Peter Beaumont discusses some of the latest thinking behind the international community's paralysis. What is behind this?

Today's horrific tragedy at Ghouta, what appears to be the use of chemical weapons - nerve gas - by government forces, causing the excruciating death of what has been reported by Al Arabiyat as over 1,300 civilians - many of the victims children. The Syrian Army denies the claims. These grim facts reveal again children's real, raw vulnerability to disasters... as well as their resilience; and how little is being done to address this.

To drive this point home, no one can do it better than a child. Thanks to the Guardian and Bathoulahmed, a citizen journalist, for sharing precious Bilal's story with us. (Photo and story courtesy Bathoulahmed and the Guardianwitness which is calling for Syrian citizen journalists through September 1st.) May Bilal inspire you to do your part to support Syria's children.

Bilal, is 11 an 11 year old Syrian refugee from Qusayr. A few months ago, as he sat in a local the barber shop near his home, an explosion tore through his neighborhood shattering the glass of the shop. Flying glass hit Bilal straight in the eye, instantly blinding him in one eye. Since then, Bilal has been wearing a hat to avoid drawing attention to his eye. His mother told me that he has lost all his confidence. He is too embarrassed to face people because he is worried they would think he looks weird and laugh at him. But Bilal took of his hat and allowed me to see his face. He has the face of an angel.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Dignity can not wait for better times."

This is brilliant. Must watch. Thanks to Margareta Wahlström for tagging this for us and Mahmood and Alberto Cairo for doing it. May we live it.


Road to Sendai: Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction

Its' official - the save the date announcement came out yesterday from the UNISDR for the Third World Conference on Disaster Reduction. So in case you have not seen it, here it is:
Dear partners,

Subject to an anticipated decision of the UN General Assembly later in 2013, the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) is to take place in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, from 14 to 18 March 2015 (five days inclusive).

Hosted by the Government of Japan in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), as secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the WCDRR will review the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action and is expected to adopt a successor framework for disaster risk reduction.

The post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction will build on the knowledge and practice developed through the implementation of the International Framework for the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction of 1989, the Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action of 1994, the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction of 1999 and the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters. Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 66/199, UNISDR will continue to ensure extensive and inclusive multi-stakeholder consultations for a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.

Kind regards,
International Day for Disaster Reduction 2013

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR)
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