Across the world, both the number of disasters and their human and economic impact have been on the rise. In 2011, natural disasters killed more than 30,000 people and affected 244 million. That same year, resulting economic losses totaled USD 366 billion, the highest ever recorded.
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of those affected live in developing countries, where the poor are exposed to much greater risk from natural hazards. This is especially true of the most marginalized, including women and girls.
Rwanda is no exception to that rule. This year’s torrential rains have resulted in unprecedented floods and landslides, killing 32 people and destroying more than 1,400 houses and 2,222 hectares of land. The extent of the damage has drawn attention to the interplay between climate change, land use, and overpopulation which are all serious development challenges Rwanda is facing.
UNDP will continue to support Rwanda, as the post-2015 agenda for disaster risk reduction takes shape.
Firstly, UNDP has been working with Rwanda to build disaster risk reduction into its development planning, from the local to the national level. Where disasters strike, we also strive to help the country build back better, creating opportunities for more resilient development.
Secondly, laws, institutions and governance must be strengthened to ensure better preparedness. With our support, better land use planning, building codes, and environmental and water management are being integrated in the country’s poverty reduction strategy.
Thirdly, achieving sustainable risk reduction means taking into account a wide range of opportunities, such as boosting local participation, building people’s capacities and making women’s voice count.
Fourthly, it is estimated that every dollar of aid spent on preventing and mitigating disasters saves an average of seven dollars in humanitarian disaster response. By investing in disaster risk reduction now, Rwanda is maximizing its chances of saving lives and money and making sure its incredible progress over the last twenty years is preserved and built upon.
About the Author
Auke Lootsma is Country Director of UNDP Rwanda.