Thursday, January 27, 2011

"I feel like I should try to save my family"- Young pastoralist Abdullahi's fight for resilience

Abdullahi and his little brother from Kenya

 A colleague passed along this amazing video clip to me this morning..about Abdullahi, a Kenyan boy who, demoralized in the face of devastating loss of livestock due to drought, found a way to still bring a ray of hope into his community for the future. "I think about ways that I can work hard and get an education", he says, "so that I can change my family's standard of living."

How Abullahi does this - this ray of hope - is beautiful and painful to witness... This poignant short story says more than words ever could about the unique and powerful role that children and youth often do have in catalyzing change in their communities...even in the worst circumstances. Let's make a point to notice and celebrate children's contributions to envisioning and bringing about a better future wherever and however these occur. As for Abdulahi's community, raising awareness and support for schemes that support pastoralists to face existing and impending losses is another way to build resilience.

Kalacha, Marsabit district where a satellite imaging insurance scheme will be used
Photograph: Gideon Mendel/© Gideon Mendel/Corbis

Abdullahi's Story


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Killer Year caps deadly decade - reducing disaster impact not an option, says UN SRSG Margareta Wahlström

2010 tied for the warmest year on record, and ranks as one of the deadliest in two decades for natural disasters, with the Haiti earthquake and the Russian heat wave driving total deaths to nearly 300,000. $109 billion was spent on dealing with disasters in 2010 - money which could have been invested in helping vulnerable communities cope with poverty, climate change and other development deterrants. With the scale of these statistics coming in to cap this deadly decade... disaster risk reduction (DRR) is no longer 'an option'.

Speaking from Geneva, Margareta Wahlström, UN Special Representative to the Secretary General said,
"These figures are bad, but could be seen as benign in years to come...Unless we act now, we will see more and more disasters due to unplanned urbanization and environmental degradation. And weather-related disasters are sure to rise in the future, due to factors that include climate change."
When will we think ahead and begin to really work together well? It does seem that what was once an issue that may have been in the margins is now becoming mainstreamed into public conscience - and into development mechanisms at national, international and local levels... but this is happening far too slowly and these good cases are too few in comparison with the scale of the problem. Among the critical issues now are to bring DRR into mainline development budgeting and implementation processes at these various levels, and to bring all the stakeholders around the table to truly make reducing risk 'everybody's business' - rather than the business of disaster managers or civil protection or "specialists". Everyone has a role to play in becoming aware and being prepared, in reaching out during disasters, and in their aftermath to build back better. Speaking on the importance of key actors in this process, Ms. Wahlstrom said,
"It’s critical for local governments, city leaders and their partners to incorporate climate change adaptation in urban planning,” Ms. Wahlström said, stressing that disaster risk reduction was “no longer optional”. “What we call ‘disaster risk reduction’ – and what some are calling ‘risk mitigation’ or ‘risk management’ – is a strategic and technical tool for helping national and local governments to fulfill their responsibilities to citizens.”

A recent press release by the UNISDR draws on research provided by CRED on disaster trends - which hopefully are a wakeup call for us all to our own role in building resilience both at home and abroad.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

President of UN General Assembly convenes first ever Thematic Debate on Disaster Risk Reduction - coming up!

World Vision, UNDP, Save the Children and youth from Canada and the Philippines are preparing a dynamic side event at the upcoming Thematic Debate on DRR at the UN headquarters in New York. The event is entitled: Taking Collective Action in DRR for Good Governance – Investing in Our Children’s Future: A multi-stakeholder dialogue between youth, NGOs, UN agencies, Government and partners on working together to integrate DRR and development, addressing risks which undermine sustainable development.

This special side event will occur from 1:15 - 2:45 p.m. on 9 February, 2011 at UN Headquarters in New York at the informal Thematic Debate on Disaster Risk Reduction hosted by H.E. President Joseph Deiss of Switzerland, the current President of the UN General Assembly. For more information on this debate, and other initiatives of the President, see

Background to the meeting: The High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals, held from 20 to 22 September 2010, acknowledged that disaster risk reduction and increasing resilience to natural hazard can have multiplier effects and accelerate achievement of the MDGs.

The event is sponsored by World Vision, UNDP, Save the Children and partners. For more information, please contact @melisamar on Twitter or

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

BBC interviews Margareta Wahlstrom on Disaster Reduction

Margareta Wahlstrom, Special Representative to the UN Secretary General, speaks here to the BBC on the importance of investing in disaster risk reduction.