THE International Day for Risk Reduction is observed annually on October 13 after a call by the United Nations General Assembly for a day to promote a global culture of risk awareness and disaster reduction. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly officially designated October 13 as the day to observe risk reduction the world over.
This year’s observance is focused on the sixth of the seven targets of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction with emphasis on international co-operation for developing countries to reduce their disaster risk and disaster losses.
The theme for this year’s observances is ‘International co-operation for developing countries to reduce their disaster risk and disaster losses’. The theme was chosen as 2021 is seen as a ‘make or break’ year for delivering on the 2025 Paris Agreement to counter the impact of climate change.
The fact is that any lack of action on climate change can result in many countries, especially those in the developing world, experiencing more extreme weather patterns which, as in the case of our own recent experience, could result in severe damage to critical physical and social infrastructure.
Such damage and disruptions to national life can be mitigated by way of greater awareness of the risks involved and the dangers posed by global warming, which to a very large extent are the result of human action.
As noted by Prime Minister, Mark Phillips, in a statement to mark the day, analysis of disasters have long shown that the levels of impacts observed are disproportional across countries, with low and middle-income countries suffering greater losses and damage when disaster strikes, especially in terms of mortality, injuries, displacement, economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure.
International co-operation for developing countries through Official Development Aid (ODA) and capacity building is therefore essential to boost disaster resilience and more importantly, to assist these countries to develop legislative frameworks, institutional architecture and related investment vehicles for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in line with the goal, targets, and priorities of the SFDRR.
Of interest to note is that the 2020 Human Development Index puts Guyana at 0.682 for 2019. This places the country in the medium development category which is an improvement over previous ratings. With Guyana now becoming an oil-producing state, the ratings are likely to go higher. However, the need for technical, financial and logistical support cannot be overemphasised especially in the context of our own vulnerability to floods and other forms of natural disasters.
The country has benefitted substantially from international co-operation and support as was evident from the recent floods. In fact, Guyana received assistance in terms of a detailed damage sector analysis and a damage and loss assessment through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean respectively.
We live in an increasingly interconnected world and it is therefore imperative that as a country we develop closer co-operation and establish networks with international agencies to mitigate the impact of any disaster that may come our way. The Guyana Government, according to a statement by the Prime Minister, is committed to continuing and strengthening international co-operation partnerships for Disaster Risk Management, recognising the intrinsic role this can play in building the country’s resilience.