D isasters take a toll on people’s lives. Millions lose their homes and jobs because of extreme weather, and countries are impacted heavily by economic losses and potential environmental hazards.
In recognition of the United Nation’s Sendai Framework, a 15-year global initiative to reduce disaster risks, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has been mobilizing awareness campaigns in support of the world-wide humanitarian effort.
“Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is an investment in communities to reduce the negative impact of future disasters,” says Imad Madanat, vice president for programs at ADRA. “Helping high risk communities prepare for disasters protects persons, families, and communities from devastation, allows them to implement the recovery process faster, and restore their livelihoods and the community’s well-being.”
ADRA has six technical learning groups comprised of members within its network who advise and set policies for the agency to help address and respond to community development needs such as health, education, hygiene, and more. One of those groups is the Resilience Technical Learning Lab, or RTLL, which focuses on DRR. As the need for DRR rose around the world, so did the need for DRR to be addressed.
“We recognized the natural and man-made threats faced by communities around the world,” says Prabhook Bandaratilleke, RTLL chair. “ADRA’s presence in over 130 countries has opened an avenue for us to reach the unreachable and assist them in being more resilient to disasters. The RTLL is paving the way in building the capacity of ADRA’s network so we can provide support for communities even before disaster strikes.”
In June 2017, ADRA and its network offices in Asia came up with an approach to “inclusive community-managed disaster risk reduction” for the region. In its 2017 report, ADRA found that “in the Asia-Pacific region, half of the entire world-wide disasters, and over 70 percent of deaths were attributed to disasters.” As a result, the Asia-Pacific region incorporated DRR to build better recovery programs.
In Sri Lanka, for instance, water pumps were constructed in areas where natural hazards would not affect the quality of water, and latrines were raised in higher areas less prone to flooding. ADRA also adapted and incorporated DRR in other countries prone to disasters. Below are a few projects where ADRA is providing sustainable DRR action plans, and services.
In the Dry Corridor of Southern Honduras, communities routinely suffer the effects of drought and famine. To counteract this seasonal devastation, ADRA equips communities with sustainable innovations designed to overcome disaster before disaster strikes. The main purpose of the project is to improve by 30 percent the income of 160 vulnerable families through diversifying sustainable agricultural production linked to the market. By providing water and irrigation resources, climate-appropriate agriculture, and income-generating activities to boost the local economy, families in the Dry Corridor are increasingly prepared for climate change and seasonal disasters.
Every year, from December to February, Madagascar faces a severe rain season, which causes heavy flooding. Roads are left underwater, bridges are washed away, crops are destroyed, and access to towns, schools, and facilities are cut off. ADRA implemented the USAID-funded ASOTRY project, which is a five-year food security program in Madagascar, after damage assessments revealed the community was suffering from food shortage. In preparation for the monsoon period, the community was trained to level and widen the roads, build an embankment, dig drainage ditches, and build or repair small bridges. Additionally, twice a year, villagers ensure the roads are maintained, and contribute their own funds to buy cement should bridges be broken or needs repair.
Recognized as a lead support agency in Nepal, ADRA created the BURDEN project aimed to strengthen disaster preparedness in schools, hospitals, and communities. ADRA promotes initiatives in collaboration with local government authorities in Nepal about climate change and coordinates post-disaster drills. The project’s goal aims to reach 100,000 families and improve disaster resilience of 40,000 people. When Nepal was struck by a powerful earthquake in 2015, communities were fully prepared to provide direct assistance to more than 150,000 families and major loss of lives were prevented.