THE VISION BOARD

The Big Picture of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM)

6 min read

Oct 02, 2020

The Big Picture

Most of the time we only hold a piece of the entire puzzle. But there’s a big picture in everything. And if we want to further understand what the puzzle means, we need as many pieces as possible. The same goes for DRRM.

As students, you probably came across several pieces of the DRRM puzzle. You have an idea of what a natural hazard is and how prone we are to typhoons and earthquakes. You also have an inkling of how complex reducing disaster risks are and the challenges of managing its impact. 

But if you are really keen to contribute to DRRM, there is one thing you need to understand. DRRM is a whole-of-society effort. DRRM requires different people from various backgrounds to work together towards common objectives. So don’t be too hard on yourself and think that what you can offer doesn’t seem quite enough. 

No One is an Island

We cannot do everything alone. Moreover, solve all problems on our own. Every now and then, people ask for help and so do we. Admit it. It’s okay!

Similarly, countries help each other. Foreign assistance is provided during ‘stable’ times, but more so during crisis or calamities. In return, beneficiary countries are expected to reciprocate in some way. Think of it like a friend repaying a favor!

Maintaining this relationship is key to sustaining international peace and security. Without it, countries cannot truly prosper and flourish. Mind you, even the richest countries need help.

The danger, however, comes when we become too reliant on external help that we cannot stand on our own feet anymore. This is when help becomes both a burden and a form of dependence.

This is why governments have to continuously build their capacities to address their countries’ challenges even when others come to our aid. One way to do this is to strengthen national and local DRRM.

Answers in the Question

Governments are responsible for protecting the people from hazards like disasters, and assisting them when they are affected. But it does not mean that they are SOLELY responsible. They can’t address everyone’s needs.

We, the people, need to reciprocate. There are no rights without duties. And there are no privileges without responsibilities. Take studies for example. The teacher can teach all they want, but unless the student is willing to study, learning will not take place. It’s something like that.

The same goes for DRRM. Governments will find ways to reduce risks and manage disasters impacts. But it will only be effective when the people it’s supposed to serve contribute to it. But how?

Finding Your Place

One of the biggest challenges of DRRM is that there are far too many actors involved. They look at the disaster problem differently, speak in ways familiar only to their professional community, and so on. But that is also a good thing about DRRM. People have no other viable option but to cooperate.

You might have started thinking about what University degree to take. Some align it with their personal interests, others follow the footsteps of family members, while several think in terms of career path. 

But what if you have other things you want to do on the side…like support DRRM. No problem! Since DRRM is a cross-cutting issue, you could take any Major and still find a way to get involved.

You’re into computer science, earth sciences, engineering, and physical sciences? Great! You can help study natural hazards and other forces so we can prevent or mitigate their impact. Your curiosity for the causes of things can help us understand how dangerous events come about so we can avoid them. And if we can’t, maybe you can help us design or build machines and structures that can shield us from harm, or at the very least minimize it.

You’re into social sciences like anthropology, sociology, and psychology? Nice! We need people who have a deeper understanding of people – how we think, behave, and act as individuals and groups. 

Your love for cultures can help us get a glimpse of indigenous practices that can be applied to manage disasters in rural communities. Knowledge of social structures can help us identify the non-structural factors that increase the capacity of people to cope with disasters. Having an idea of people’s psychology can help us gain insight into how they interpret disaster risks and ways to influence their actions for better preparedness and response.

You’re into business, economics, and political science? Super! Businesses are starting to realize that they can’t sustain their business unless they manage disaster damages and losses, and adopt responsible business practices. Economics is your thing? You will find that a healthy economy is critical to any recovery effort after a disaster strikes. Good at mobilizing people’s support? Use your political savviness to back up DRRM policies. 

You’re into architecture, arts, communication and the like? Beautiful! You can help in conveying creative DRRM messages that are more engaging and memorable. Aesthetics and function can go together.

You get the big picture by now. DRRM is a team effort.

There is No “I” in TEAM

You might be thinking something like… “but there is ‘I’ in WIN?”

Although now you’re likely convinced that DRRM is not something you can WIN on your own. Well, you’re absolutely right! Because at the moment, no one has unlimited time and resources to know everything about DRRM and have the capacity to do everything.

While it is encouraged that you do something to support DRRM efforts, it is also worthy to note that is a complex issue you can’t simply fix on your own. The key is finding what are the things in your control, and focus on them.

There’s always a place for everyone to contribute. The question is, what are you bringing to the table? Because you have a role to play. Even as students.

Up next: Say again? You can learn about risk, crisis, emergency and disaster management online for free?! Yes, you can. In the next article, you will find several courses you can take up on your own time and pace.

Want to learn more about Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM)? Thinking of starting a career in Humanitarian Affairs? Are you seeking personal development in this field? The General Academic Strand (GAS) strand offers Disaster Readiness and Risk Reduction as a core subject for Senior High School students. 

Plus, the learning resources in this blog will teach you about, crises, emergencies, and disasters ― how it affects your life, why it matters, and what we can do about it. Check them all out on Edukasyon.ph!

Sources

Twigg, J. ”Good Practice Review 9: Disaster Risk Reduction”. 2015 ed., Overseas Development Institute, 2015.

Videos 

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction

 

Written By:

Angelo Trias

Angelo Trias believes that we cannot sustain growth and progress in societies unless we build safer and more resilient communities first. He contributes articles to raise awareness on the dangers we face. He continues to pursue lifelong learning and holds degrees and certificates in emergency and disaster management, political science, crisis management and psychology.

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