Committee: United Nations Development Programme
Country: Republic of Rwanda
Topic: Disaster Risk Reduction
Over the last decade, the frequency and intensity of natural hazard-induced disasters, particularly floods and droughts, have significantly increased in Rwanda, raising the toll of human casualties as well as economic and environmental losses. Potential consequences of climate change are likely to further exacerbate Rwanda’s vulnerability to disasters and the magnitude of their impacts. Risk is the probability of a hazard turning into a disaster, with household’s or communities being affected in such a manner that their lives and livelihoods are seriously disrupted beyond their capacity to cope or withstand using their own resources, with the result that affected populations suffer serious widespread human, material, economic orenvironmental losses. Poor communities are predisposed to disasters due to a combination of factors such as poor settlement planning and lack of proper sanitation infrastructure, especially in flood prone areas.. These factors, coupled with naturally occurring hazards such as droughts, floods, landslides and epidemic outbreaks, among others, currently propelled by climatic change, pose extremely high and increasing disaster risks to the Rwandan society.
The policy of Rwanda emphasizes preparedness of the Government, communities and other stakeholders for Disaster Management activities. It aims at the establishment and strengthening of Disaster Management institutions, partnerships while collaborating Gender, Human Rights and Climate Change into Disaster Management activities. The ultimate goal is to increase the resilience of vulnerable groups to disasters. This policy presents the institutional structures, roles, responsibilities, authorities and key processes required to achieve a coordinated, coherent and consistent management of disaster related issues. Finally, this policy provides overarching frameworks for decision-making and coordination across Disaster Management sectors, including government ministries, civil society organizations, international organizations and the private sector.
Disaster Risk Management encompasses a full array of aspects including preparedness, mitigation, prevention, relief, recovery and rehabilitation. Rwanda’s policy aims to increase and sustain the resilience of vulnerable communities to hazards through the diversification of their livelihoods and coping mechanisms. This entails a shift from short term plans to sustainable planning mechanisms. This policy aims to strengthen Disaster Management in Rwanda, in order to preserve life and to minimize suffering by providing sufficient and timely early warning and relevant information to the population on potential hazards that may result in disasters.
Understanding the concept and challenges of disaster risk reduction (DRR) is imperative as there is an increasing need to place greater policy attention on reducing human vulnerabilities to potential natural hazards. A shift to a proactive approach in disaster management is necessary as it would not only create better preparedness for future disasters but also contribute to the progress in human development and the building of adaptive capacity to climate change. Addressing the underlying factors of human vulnerabilities would create a win-win solution to the advancement of DRR, sustainable development and climate change adaptation. This in turn will increase the resilience of state and community.
Moreover, major natural disaster occurrences always demand a great amount of international aid and assistance. Considering the limit to these resources, continued natural disaster crises may create aid fatigue among international donors and communities. Therefore, governments are encouraged to play a key role in supporting DRR across various sectors by involving various stakeholders. A well implemented DRR offers a longterm, preventative solution to existing vulnerabilities to natural disasters hence creating greater preparedness to and minimising the impact of natural hazards. However, looking at the existing gaps and challenges to the implementation of DRR, improvements are still much needed. In particular, there is a need to develop cross cutting policy implementations through dialogue among practitioners and policymaking communities across issues.
In this committee, there is a new opportunity to determine better ways to reduce the risk of disasters in a manner that will work for nations all around the world. The Rwandan delegation stresses the importance of individualized local and national level plans for disaster prevention. This is a serious topic and Rwanda looks forward to working with the committee to create approaches that will have better, more sustainable actions.
- Tyler Cattini