Disaster Preparedness, Guidance Note

Author: DG ECHO

Year: 2021

Publisher: European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO)

Over the past two decades, the nature of humanitarian crises has gradually become more protracted, unpredictable and complex. Crises are increasingly exacerbated by factors such as climate change, environmental degradation, rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, and by the overlaps between disasters, conflict and fragile situations. Faced with these new challenges, the humanitarian community – including DG ECHO – needs to adjust its practices and tools in order to provide a more effective early response.

As the humanitarian landscape has changed, international agreements such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR), the Paris Agreement for Climate Change, as well as the Grand Bargain have been adopted. They have redefined the international community’s commitment towards reducing disaster risk, fighting climate change and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of humanitarian action.

Concurrently, the European Commission (EC) has renewed its commitment to strengthening the resilience of partner countries and to increasing the impact of its external action through the Joint Communication on Resilience in 20171 .

As a result of these developments, and the changing humanitarian landscape, DG ECHO decided to review and renew its work on disaster preparedness and promote a risk-informed approach to humanitarian action. This Guidance Note presents DG ECHO’s new approach and its practical application. It is intended to be a dynamic document, and will be continuously updated to address changes in the operational environment.

DG ECHO views preparedness as being critically important for the quality and timeliness of response operations, as well as being a way of improving anticipation, thus complementing humanitarian assistance in saving lives, reducing suffering and pre-empting or decreasing humanitarian needs. DG ECHO recognises that disaster preparedness applies to all forms of risk, ranging from natural hazards and epidemics to human-induced threats such as conflict and violence. Understanding and anticipating such risks is essential in order to define the needs that they might generate and to design and implement effective preparedness actions and response operations. All humanitarian action therefore needs to be informed by risk assessment and analysis, which should consistently complement a needs-based approach.

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