International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction: Build to Last

Thursday, October 10, 2019

This Sunday, the 13th of October, is the 30th International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (IDDRR). An initiative started by the UN General Assembly in 1989 in order to promote a global culture of disaster risk reduction. This year the theme is ‘Build to Last’. 

Many disasters could be avoided or prevented through a risk-informed approach to development, construction and maintenance of critical infrastructure. Infrastructure must be built to last, by making sure that locations are suitable and that structures conform to appropriate planning regulations and building codes. Find more on Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance’s recommendations on risk-informed infrastructure investments here

Flood resilient infrastructure

For a comprehensive overview and understanding of resilient infrastructure in the face of natural hazards, including floods, have a look at Lifelines. Here the World Bank builds on a range of case studies, empirical work and modeling exercises to make an economic case for building more resilient infrastructure. 

Building to last in the face of floods is partly about building infrastructure that can cope with, and help during, floods: raised wells that ensure drinking water isn’t contaminated by dirty flood water, flood proof grain storage, safe shelters, and evacuation routes for accessing these. 

For more flood resilient solutions have a look in the Portal’s Solution Finder

Flood Resilient Infrastructure - Raised Tube well Bangaun Community Tikapur Kailali
Raised tube wells like this in Kailali, Nepal ensure that drinking water doesn’t get contaminated during floods. By Archana Gurung, Practical Action 

Nature-Based Solutions 

Building to last cannot only be about building sturdy structures that will last for a long time, it also has to be about building in a way that is sustainable and climate smart. Sometimes not building at all is the best approach to resilience.

Nature-Based Solutions as an alternative to, or in combination with conventional (often referred to as ‘grey’), infrastructure can reduce disaster risk and produce more resilient, lower-cost services in developing countries. The Flood Resilience Portal library holds a wide range of resources on the topic of Nature-Based Solutions, on both their value and how they are best implemented. 

Urban flood risk can be reduced by making cities “spongier” and more absorbent. The protection of coral reefs on the coast of the United States has a financial value in terms of the flood protection it provides in comparison with artificial defenses like sea walls. 

If you’re already sold on the benefits of nature-based approaches, this guide by the World Wildlife Fund is designed to support communities in using natural and nature-based methods for flood planning. 

Building lasting community resilience

Disaster Risk Reduction is not only about infrastructure, and those worst affected by floods often lack power to influence the decisions that put them at risk. That’s why the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance works alongside communities, to provide the tools they need to adapt and build lasting resilience.  

Flood resilience must be approached holistically. The Flood Resilience Measurement for Communities (FRMC), a framework and tool for measuring resilience developed by Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance, allows communities to identify areas where resilience is weak and investments are required. The knowledge generated through the FRMC can be used to influence decision makers when making investments in flood resilience, making sure that time, money and effort is spent where it is needed the most and will have the biggest, lasting impact, whether that means building infrastructure or human capacity. 

The five capitals required for flood resilience. 

Learn more about the FRMC and how it can be used to build lasting resilience. 

Get involved

For more information about the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, including events taking place around the globe, visit UNDRR. To join in the conversation on Social Media use #DRRday and #BuildToLast and follow the Flood Resilience Portal and Alliance on @floodalliance 

Don’t forget that you can find many more resources on the topic of resilient infrastructure in the Flood Resilience Portal Library

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