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Crisis and Disaster Risk Reduction

When a disaster notification arrives, Welthungerhilfe's Emergency Response Team immediately analyses the situation and necessary measures, with help arriving soon afterwards. In many cases, however, Welthungerhilfe begins earlier yet, even before the natural disaster or crisis occurs.

Disaster Rescue Training in 2008 in Somotillo, Nicaragua, a region that is regularly hit by hurricanes.
Disaster Rescue Training in 2008 in Somotillo, Nicaragua, a region that is regularly hit by hurricanes. © Florian Kopp/Welthungerhilfe
Matthias Amling Humanitarian Directorate

This is made possible by two central elements: regular, in-depth risk analyses, even for remote areas, and emergency protocols derived from the same. These extensive efforts pay off: Welthungerhilfe (WHH) can prepare both local residents and itself for a coming crisis, take early protective measures and ultimately help more rapidly, precisely, and effectively. It is proactive rather than reactive.

WHH's approach is guided by the principles of early warning and early action. The most significant risks for a given region are identified and the real threat level is assessed. In conjunction with local authorities and other organizations, proactive measures to mitigate the expected crisis or disaster are taken.

In a project on Madagascar, for example, WHH employees regularly analyzed the probability of cyclones. Combining modern technology with traditional or local knowledge is useful when it comes to political conflicts and in particular to natural disasters. WHH also reviews which type of aid would be most important in event of an emergency – e.g., determining from where and how to get drinking water as well as how to secure and repair existing wells if a tropical storm destroys the water supply infrastructure.

With this knowledge, WHH can prepare its reaction to emergencies in advance; 'preparedness' is the second pillar of crisis and disaster risk reduction. These preparations include securing people and infrastructure. In terms of the project in the Philippines, for example, this included: building shelter rooms, storing emergency rations, and making wells and houses as stormproof as possible.

However, not only people in the project regions need to be protected from foreseeable crises: WHH and its partner organizations need protection themselves. After all, they must remain functional in order to implement the prepared aid measures in the event of an emergency. For this reason, employee training sessions are as integral to the concept as securing aid material, means of mobility, and communication channels. Even during reconstruction efforts in the wake of a disaster, Welthungerhilfe ensures that it strengthens the resilience of people and infrastructure and implements climate and environmental protection measures in order to help prevent future natural disasters. In addition to rapid reaction to disaster, disaster prediction, mitigation and perhaps even prevention all represent steps on the way to the goal: ZeroHunger.

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