Scaling up disaster risk reduction in humanitarian action: Recommendations for the Humanitarian Programme Cycle

Manual and Guideline
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About the recommendations

Reducing risk – due to natural, biological and technological hazards, including pandemics – is fundamental to meeting humanitarian needs and achieving sustainable development. In many humanitarian contexts, populations already impacted by conflict, civil strife, pandemics or other disasters are also confronted by growing hazardrelated disaster risks, often fuelled by climate change. As a result, underlying vulnerabilities are compounded, capacities are limited, and short-term solutions are ineffective in reducing risk and dealing with the consequences.

Growing attention to humanitariandevelopment-peace collaboration provides new opportunities to reduce both emerging and existing risks. Emergency needs and humanitarian crises stem from underlying issues that reflect broader inequalities and injustices. Collaboration across the sectors offers an opportunity to address them by simultaneously meeting lifesaving needs while ensuring longer-term investment in addressing the systemic causes of conflict and vulnerability.

Ultimately, the approach aims to reduce the impact of cyclical or recurrent shocks and stresses, and support the peace that is essential for sustainable development.

The 2030 Agenda for Humanity and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out to not only meet needs, but to also reduce risk, vulnerability and overall levels of need, outlining a vision for the future in which no one is left behind. (See more on the “New Way of Working” and its potential in Section 2.1 Advancing DRR across the humanitarian-development-peace collaboration contexts).

The recommendations seek to support operationalization of humanitariandevelopment-peace collaboration through scaling up DRR. This document is informed by targeted interviews, literature review of global and regional guidance and tools, an Asia-Pacific regional workshop in Bangkok and a global workshop in Geneva. The research examined how DRR is already featured in humanitarian action and identified both good practices as well as challenges.

This is not a “how to” guide nor a substitute for the extensive guidance and tools on effective delivery of DRR nor is it a substitute for the existing tools supporting implementation of the humanitarian programme cycle. Instead, it outlines ways to make DRR more integral to humanitarian planning and programming at country level, particularly in more challenging areas. It is intended to help practitioners strengthen risk-informed programming in different phases, while leaving them room to adapt to the country context.

The recommendations recognize that although positions may exist within government or organizations to exclusively address risk reduction, DRR is a collective responsibility for actors working to achieve the 2030 Agenda. Therefore, the recommendations do not target any one group, but are intended to help guide a range of stakeholders. Where indicated, some of the recommendations point to specific actors, but many are broader considerations that any actor committed to DRR could address including:

Resident Coordinators/ Humanitarian Coordinators (RC/HC), United Nations Country Teams/ Humanitarian Country Teams (UNCT/HCTs), Cluster Coordinators, agencies responsible for disaster risk management and individual agencies and organizations. The humanitarian programme cycle is used as a framework to organize different DRR entry points.

The tools of the humanitarian programme cycle were designed primarily for international responses to large-scale, protracted crises. But especially in Middle Income Countries (MICs), national responses often take the lead over the multi-lateral system. The principles of the humanitarian programme cycle, emphasizing needs analysis, planning and monitoring, and resource mobilization, remain good practice whether an HCT, national disaster risk management agency, or another actor leads the response. This paper is intended to inform actors from the multilateral system, government, or a combination of both.