Building resilience, reducing the risk of disasters and adapting to climate change are urgent humanitarian priorities, with increasing hazards (due to climate variability), exposure of people to urbanization and high levels of vulnerability among the poorest.
National and local capacity is critical to successful risk management. Humanitarian organizations already work with governments to manage crisis risk, but government’s role is rarely systematic. Governments and humanitarian organizations need to build a better-defined, less-politicized and strategic relationship. Investing in national and local response capacity and knowledge to build resilience will save lives, cut costs and preserve hard-won development gains.
Preparedness is underfunded
Prevention and preparedness funding comprised less than 0.5 percent of all international aid over the past 20 years, and most came from humanitarian budgets. Effective preparedness and risk reduction requires sustained funding, which humanitarian budgets are not set up to provide. Funds allocated to disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness are inadequate. There are a number of reasons for this: emergency response is more immediate and visible.
“A politician won’t get credit for pushing good preparedness plans and investments. Why should a politician invest in a sensible system to reduce risks and enable a quick response to a strong earthquake if the political benefits from such a system are likely to be reaped by that politician’s successor?”
Preparedness is not visible
These facts of political life tend to lead to procrastination in setting up good response systems beforehand and in delays in making firm decisions about how to respond under various circumstances - decision makers are under little pressure, and the rewards are scarce. The shift from cure to prevention is ultimately a political challenge that requires the will and efforts of the governments primarily.
Humanitarians also need to examine their organizational structures, incentives, processes and culture. Senior leaders need to champion and be accountable for managing crisis risk, and concerted advocacy is needed to bring it to the attention of the decision makers. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Agenda for Humanity offer excellent opportunities to achieve this.