Disaster Resilience Topic Guide

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Executive summary

Over the past decade, there has been an increase in the frequency and severity of hazards such as droughts, flooding and cyclones. The impacts of disasters on development, poverty and vulnerability have led to calls for improving disaster resilience – meaning the capacity of households, communities and countries to cope with and adapt to the shocks and stresses associated with natural hazards.
There is emerging evidence that disaster resilience has been effective in saving lives and protecting infrastructure, livelihoods, social systems and the environment, and that building disaster resilience is more cost-effective and sustainable than the present combination of disaster relief and development aid.
While the terminology of disaster resilience is relatively new and remains debated, it is already embedded in international policy frameworks for humanitarian action.

This topic guide focuses on resilience to natural hazards, with emphasis on humanitarian action, in fragile and conflict-afflicted states as well as in other contexts. Although some principles are common to both contexts, there remains a high level of uncertainty about how to build resilience in adverse political economies.