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Commission promotes resilience for disaster-prone communities globally

The European Commission is hosting the first ever EU Resilience Forum in Brussels yesterday. Representatives from the humanitarian and development worlds will assess the progress achieved in their work on resilience, exchange best practices and chart ways forward to further support resilience in disaster-prone countries.

The Forum will bring together representatives from Member States, other donors, think- tanks and partner organisations of the Commission, such as the United Nations, the Red Cross, NGOs and The World Bank Group.

What is resilience?

Disasters - be they of the sudden-onset variety such as tsunamis and earthquakes, or the creeping, recurrent variety, such as droughts, kill millions of people every year and inflict destruction, poverty and misery to many more. Complex disasters (where conflict is also part of the equation) are also a growing problem. The poorest are the most vulnerable to the impact of disasters.

This problem is becoming more and more serious due to the increasing frequency and intensity of natural and man-made crises in recent years. That is why building the resilience of individuals and communities is a priority for the European Commission in its humanitarian and development cooperation work.

Resilience is the ability of an individual, a household, a community, a country or a region to withstand, adapt, and quickly recover from stresses and shocks without compromising long-term development. Without efforts to build up resilience, disasters will continue to cause unnecessary suffering, humanitarian needs and missed development opportunities.

Resilience-building can take many forms. For instance, cash transfer programmes for the poorest households in drought-prone areas can give them a safety net during the period of the year when their food reserves are at their lowest ebb. Prevention and preparedness projects such as early warning systems or disaster insurance can also build resilience, for instance against the risks of tropical storms and earthquakes. Support to ‘State-Building’ can also be a resilience measure, through improving the delivery of equitable health care services and the institutional development of relevant Ministries and improving the quality, scope and coverage of social safety nets for the poorest.

What is the European Commission doing to help build resilience?

Resilience helps reduce the damage caused by disasters and therefore humanitarian needs and the risks to development. Investing in disaster prevention is a logical priority for humanitarian and development policies. Acting now to reduce future suffering and loss is both ethical and cost effective: investing a euro or a dollar in preparedness can save up to seven in response efforts.

That's why supporting the most vulnerable people and communities to build up their resilience is part of the European Commission's short, medium and long-term policies and commitments in the field of humanitarian aid, crisis response and development assistance.

The Commission supports people in risk-prone areas to prepare for, withstand and recover from disaster shocks. In 2013 more than 20% of the European Commission's relief funding was used for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and two-thirds of its humanitarian projects included DRR activities, reaching out to 18 million people worldwide.

Resilience-building takes place at the crossroads between humanitarian and development action and requires the joint commitment of both relief and development aid practitioners.

The 2012 Commission Communication 'The EU Approach to Resilience - Learning from Food Security Crises' laid the foundations for the European Union's work and underscored resilience building as a central aim of its external assistance.

The 'Action Plan for Resilience in Crisis Prone Countries 2013-2020' outlined the steps to be undertaken to achieve results by bringing together humanitarian action, long-term development cooperation and political engagement.

EU policies on climate change, disaster risk reduction, agriculture, food and nutrition security and social protection already prioritise resilience. Important advances have been made to integrate resilience across development and humanitarian programmes in all countries and regions, not just in Africa.

What are the main achievements to date?

Progress has already been made in terms of improved aid effectiveness, risk-informed programming, flexibility and stronger accountability.

The European Commission is working on the following initiatives which have resilience at their core:

AGIR (Global Alliance for Resilience for the Sahel and West Africa): launched in 2012 with other humanitarian and development partners, it seeks to mobilise €1.5 billion for resilience building in the region between 2014 and 2020 and aims to achieve the 'Zero Hunger' goal by 2032. A framework is now well-established to coordinate governments and donors so as to enhance food security and nutrition in this drought and malnutrition-prone part of the world.

SHARE ('Supporting the Horn of Africa's Resilience'): launched in 2012 after the hunger crisis in 2011, it has mobilised around €350 million since and will be followed-up with projects under the 11th European Development Fund. The initiative works on improving land resource management and generating income for people dependent on livestock. This entails finding lasting remedies for chronic malnutrition and durable solutions for refugees and uprooted populations.

Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA): launched in 2007 by the European Commission to strengthen dialogue and cooperation on climate change between the EU and developing countries which are vulnerable to climate change, it is a platform for the exchange of experience on integrating climate change practices into policies and budgets.

Disaster Preparedness programme (DIPECHO): the Commission's humanitarian flagship programme in the area of disaster preparedness, DIPECHO funds preparatory measures including training, capacity-building, awareness-raising and early-warning systems for local communities.

Post-2015 Hyogo Framework for Action: the recently adopted Commission Communication 'The Post 2015 Hyogo Framework for Action: Managing risks to achieve resilience' is a cornerstone in shaping a common EU position for reducing the impact of natural and man-made disasters. It sets out the European position on the renewed international UN framework for disaster risk reduction - the so-called post 2015 Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), serving as a basis for upcoming discussions between the EU Member States, the European Parliament and other stakeholders.

For more information

The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection:

Commissioner Georgieva's website:

The European Commission's development and cooperation:

Commissioner Piebalgs' website:

Fact sheet on resilience: hematic/EU_building_resilience_en.pdf


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