There are more than 900 natural hazards turned disasters reported around the world per annum with 2007 seeing the largest reported number of over 1100. On average the number of weather related disasters increase 2.1 times per year (The Number of Natural Disasters Is on the Rise | Make Wealth History n.d.). In 2011 Japan recorded the largest number of deaths due to natural hazards, reporting a staggering 19,846 deaths. According to 2011 statistics the top 10 countries that experienced the highest number of deaths were, in descending order, Japan, The Philippines, Brazil, Thailand, Turkey, Pakistan, United States, Cambodia, China and India. (PreventionWeb.net Homepage – Serving the Information Needs of the Disaster Reduction Community n.d.). Based on collected statistics, experts believe that the frequency and intensity of disasters are on an increasing trend.
With the increase of natural disasters, initiatives by agencies in the recent years have been focused more on prevention rather than relief. The United Nations publication entitled “Living with Risk: A global review of disaster reduction initiatives. Vol. 01. 2004” captures the sentiments of the day thus, “Today, there is increasing recognition that while humanitarian efforts are important and need continued attention, risk and vulnerability are crucial elements in reducing the negative impacts of hazards and thus essential to the achievement of sustainable development.”
It is with this mindset that ADRA’s Country Offices in the Asia region recognized the need for a regional approach to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and called for a meeting in the network’s regional office in Bangkok, Thailand from the 1st to the 3rd of October, 2013. Known as the “Multi-country Program Workshop”, the event was attended by 14 participants representing 9 ADRA Country Offices in the Asia region.
The workshop was facilitated by Mrs. Zenaida Willison, a former UNDP DRR expert who also serves as a board member of the ADRA Asia Regional Office and ADRA International. Representatives of each country discussed ways in which the country office could utilize the expertise and capacities possessed within the ADRA network, thereby making each country office’s programs more effective to the people they serve, especially in DRR-related areas.
The workshop employed a highly participatory approach and was concluded with an action plan to (1) develop further cooperation among countries by encouraging the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and (2) to develop an ADRA Asia Policy statement together with the best practices followed by the country offices in the region.
This is yet another effort by ADRA to change the world, one life at a time!
Prabhook Bandaratilleke, Programs Officer, ADRA Sri Lanka