Why invest in multi-hazard resilience?
Floods do not happen in isolation from other hazards. We use the term compound risk where two or more extreme events happening at the same time. For example how during the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve had to manage the risks and impacts of natural hazards like floods alongside a global pandemic. Multi-hazard resilience refers both to compound risk resilience, and where capacity developed to cope with and respond to a specific hazard is leveraged enhancing resilience to additional hazards. For example how systems developed for flood preparedness and response have been used to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The Coronavirus pandemic has shown the importance of investing in preparedness and resilience, as those who were not sufficiently prepared for this global health crisis have paid a high price.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control in some parts of the world the impacts of climate change and climate change exacerbated natural hazards like floods continue to increase. Investing in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation will save lives and livelihoods and needs to be prioritised despite budget constraints among donor governments.
Responding to urgent needs and building resilience to future risk
Humanitarian emergency response to floods and other extreme events is needed and should be funded. But response to such events should go beyond short-term thinking. Instead humanitarian response and funding should be linked with longer-term resilience building efforts which reduce the risk of future disasters.
How resilience to floods can protect from other hazards
In 2020-2021, the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance is working to address compound risk resulting from flood events during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with regard to how the pandemic has exacerbated the vulnerability of marginalised populations, depleted emergency funding reserves, and presents challenges regarding maintaining pandemic hygiene and physical distancing during flood response.
Alliance partners found that the communities we work with were comparably well prepared for and able to respond to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. These communities have the structures needed to coordinate response and disseminate information as they have experience of, and regularly practice, effectively responding to emergencies.
In Nepal SMS services used to disseminate flood early warnings were deployed to share information about how to prevent spreading the Coronavirus and what restrictions were being imposed. This blog on disaster risk communication also shows how expertise in flood early warning systems could be leveraged to inform of the risk of, and appropriate response to, COVID-19.
Community Disaster Management Committees worked with Nepalese authorities to identify households most in need of emergency assistance as people lost their income, thus ability to feed themselves and their families. They also coordinated local harvests to ensure physical distancing was maintained and hygiene measures like frequent hand washing were enforced.
In Mexico digital communication channels and social media have been used to continue engagement with communities and to share important information. For example on how to tell the difference between dengue fever, common in the aftermath of flooding, and COVID-19 and what action to take accordingly.
These blogs give an insight into how the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance has leveraged our knowledge on building flood resilience in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic:
- Laying in Wait: Responding to the Pandemic Amidst Impending Disasters
- The importance of disaster risk communication in the time of COVID-19.
- What role can a flood resilience programme play in the COVID-19 response?
- Compound risks of COVID-19 and floods driving more people into poverty in Bangladesh
- Adaptability in Times of Covid-19: Exploring Digital Resilience Building
- Strengthening community resilience in times of COVID-19
- Strengthening resilience of flood vulnerable communities in Indonesia during the COVID-19 crisis
- Advancing digitalization in DRR and development programs in COVID-19 times
- Bangaun community sets a good example in managing mixed vulnerability
- Building community-based multi-hazard resilience in Nicaragua
- Exploring co-benefits: Community-centred resilience building in times of Covid-19
In 2009, wealthy countries committed to mobilize $100 bn in annual climate finance to assist low-income countries to address climate change by 2020.
Hosted by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction Regional Office for Africa, African Union Commission, and Partners for Resilience. The
The Words into Action (WiA) guidelines series aims to ensure worldwide access to expertise, communities of practice and networks of DRR practitioners.