Floods, storms, earthquakes: The number and extent of natural disasters have increased alarmingly in recent years. The poorest countries in the world are often the hardest hit. To reduce the impact of disasters, it is important to take the right preventive measures.
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In 2019, there were 396 natural disasters and extreme weather events worldwide. By comparison, the annual average in each of the previous ten years was 343 disasters. Experts estimate that the number of disasters will increase even further in the future due to climate change. Therefore, 140 million climate refugees are expected by 2050.
Cyclone Idai in Zimbabwe in 2019, Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines in 2018 or the severe earthquake in Nepal in 2015: all these natural disasters caused immense damage. Not only were homes destroyed in the countries, but the infrastructure was also crippled. The countries, which were already very poor, were not prepared for such disasters: people did not know what to do in the event of an earthquake. There was a lack of knowledge about first aid measures. The construction of many buildings did not meet the necessary safety criteria.
In poorer countries, people often do not have the means to prepare for natural disasters. We strengthen the self-help capacities of the population in regions that are particularly often affected by disasters. The better prepared people are for an emergency, the better they will be able to extricate themselves from the crisis afterwards.
The keyword in disaster risk management is "resilience" and describes the ability of people to withstand crises. We strengthen this resilience through various measures.
Help supports those affected, for example, by training them in earthquake-resistant construction techniques and in the production of high-quality building materials. We also set up preparedness committees and train members on how to behave during and after a disaster. We also set up early warning systems so that the population is informed directly in case of an emergency.
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In the Eastern Samar region of the Philippines, we have built an earthquake-proof evacuation centre where people are protected in the event of a disaster. The building is also equipped with emergency kits. Our project also included:
- technical and operational training for local authorities
- training and emergency planning for local communities
- the installation of a community-based early warning system
- the implementation of simulations to learn coping strategies.
Thanks to the project, around 15,000 people are better prepared for disasters.
The severe earthquake in 2010 destroyed 40 to 60 percent of the houses in the town of Petit Goâve. To prevent such a disaster from happening again, it was important to build the new houses more stable and earthquake-proof. Help carried out the following measures in Haiti:
- We trained masons in earthquake- and hurricane-resistant construction techniques.
- Small businesses were supported in the production of high quality building materials.
- Campaigns informed the population about the importance of stable building measures.
- We trained the inhabitants in earthquake-resistant construction techniques.