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By Priyanthi Fernando, live blogging from the Workshop on Implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction: Learning from Global and Regional Experiences.
Following the conversation on Disaster Risk – are we responsible too? - a session on disaster risk governance on Day 1 of the workshop on Implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction: Learning from Global and Regional Experiences in Hikkaduwa had an interesting perspective presented by Amjad Bhatti from Duryog Nivaran, Pakistan.
Bhatti provoked the audience with a question about whether the frameworks like the Hygo Framework for Action (HFA) and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) are designed and published purely for the sake of designing and publishing frameworks. In his opinion there was little difference between HFA and SFDRR, with the latter using more persuasive language than the former. If we are developing a new framework, it is important to learn the lessons of the one that it is replacing. In this case, has the SFDRR learned the lessons from the failures of the HFA? The HFA gave rise to legislation, institutions, resources and capacities. In Pakistan, it inspired laws on DRR, but the laws were designed without focus on quality or on the inter-relationship with existing laws.
There is also little consensus on what is meant by a ‘disaster’, and for Bhatti it was clear that the crisis of governance is not a crisis of disaster governance per se but of governance in general. He felt that it was vital to see development induced disasters as an explicit component of DRR, especially since multilateral lending institutions have financed some of these disasters, and man-made disasters are rivaling natural disasters. He advocated a political economy perspective on disaster risk governance, especially to understand why it is not a priority of government, media, CSOs or even donors. For most of these institutions disaster response is preferable to disaster risk reduction, because response has a high public relations value and is driven by what he calls a vision of heroism. There are no heroes in the prevention of disaster risk.
Bhatti’s critique also extended to the practice of community mobilisation, suggesting that perhaps it can sometimes lead to community exploitation, with formal development/DRR practitioners sometimes damaging indigenous philanthropic support systems. He gave the example of the Pakistan flood, where only 17% of the flood victims were rescued by the formal DRM system, while the rest of the victims were assisted by self-support systems and voluntary, informal DRM Practitioners.
Amjad Bhatti’s provocative comments provided much food for thought to the discussions that followed. Watch this space!
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