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It's #DRRday Friday 13th - Break The Cycle

Updated: Oct 14, 2023


The cultural origins of Friday the 13th are steeped in superstition and have become synonymous with misfortune, bad luck, doom, and gloom. There is, however, a glimmer of hope this Friday the 13th, as the world pauses to observe International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (IDDRR) under the theme, ‘Fighting Inequality For A Resilient Future’. The theme aligns with the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, an international agreement to prevent and reduce losses in lives, livelihoods, economies, and basic infrastructure.


#DRRday, or IDDRR comes on the heels of the release of the 2023 Global Survey Report On Persons With Disabilities And Disasters, commissioned by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR). The Report showed limited progress in some areas and a decline in others where the inclusion of the disabled in disaster risk reduction (DRR) decision-making is concerned.

The Unsuspecting Looter Of Lives and Livelihoods

During a stakeholder engagement session in Jamaica for the preparation of Community Disaster Risk Reduction Plan, a representative of the security forces recalled his experience of the 2008 Hurricane Gustav. Awaiting landfall and with high expectations of looting, he perched atop a chair overlooking the town. From his vantage point, all was normal until he heard a thundering sound. Thinking it was an attempt to pilfer the local grocery store, he turned to retrieve his weapon with expectations of fighting off looters. He returned to a sea of rice, flour, and other grocery items, refrigerators, and other appliances barreling towards him.


Events such as these have the potential to ruin economies, lives, and livelihoods. The UNDRR has positioned the Day to explore the reciprocal relationship between disasters and inequality. According to the UNDDR, inequality and disaster vulnerability are two sides of the same coin: unequal access to services, such as finance and insurance, leaves the most vulnerable at risk, exposed to the dangers of disasters; while disaster impacts exacerbate inequalities and push the most at risk further into poverty which is a major driver of hazard risk, increasing exposure and vulnerability.


UNDRR's Five Key Messages For Action On DRR

To achieve the mandate of the Sendai Framework, concentrated political action is required to #BreakTheCycle and accelerate actions to strengthen disaster resilience.

Poverty, inequality, and discrimination are causes and consequences of growing disaster risk.
Inequality creates conditions that render people exposed and vulnerable to disasters. Disasters disproportionately impact the poorest and most at-risk people, thus worsening inequality. Reducing vulnerability to disasters requires addressing these dimensions.
By 2030, with current climate projections, the world will face some 560 disasters per year. An additional estimated 37.6 million people will be living in conditions of extreme poverty due to the impacts of climate change and disasters by 2030. A ‘worst case’ scenario of climate change and disasters will push an additional 100.7 million into poverty by 2030.
The destructive power of hazards can be curbed through careful and coordinated planning that is designed to reduce people’s exposure and vulnerability to harm.
Greater investments are needed in the collection and use of disaggregated data, both to better understand disproportionate disaster impacts and exposure and to inform resilience-building plans.

IDDRR was first observed in 1989, after a call by the United Nations General Assembly for a day to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction. Since then, IDDRR is observed October 13, annually. The day celebrates how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters and raising awareness about the importance of reining in the risks that they face.


Watch UNDRR's Video - Breaking The Cycle of Inequality


Images and videos courtesy of the UNDRR.

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