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Rising recognition of role wetland ecosystems in reducing disaster risk


International Day for Disaster Reduction

Today is the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction 2013, a UN event to promote a global culture of disaster risk reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness. Wetlands International celebrates this day and highlights the critical role wise use and restoration of wetland ecosystems such as mangroves, river basins, marshes, and lakes can play in reducing the impacts of natural hazards like floods, droughts, storm surges and wind waves

Wetlands International works on disaster risk reduction (DRR) in collaboration with the humanitarian sector to integrate ecosystem and landscape based approaches into their disaster risk efforts. Since three years we have therefore joined forces with CARE, Cordaid, the Red Cross and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre. Together we work to reduce the impact of natural hazards on the livelihoods of vulnerable people worldwide.

The collaboration is already showing promising results. Marie-Jose Vervest, project manager DRR at Wetlands International: “A start has been made to change the mindset and approaches of humanitarian organizations. They more and more realize that their ‘traditional’ focus at the village level does not sufficiently take into account all risks vulnerable communities face.

For example upstream developments such as dams or high intake of water by flower companies in Kenya have huge impact on availability and quality of water for downstream communities. Or another example is the role of forests in hilly areas to prevent landslides or floods and their function as watershed. The key role of ecosystems in disaster risk reduction is becoming better understood. As a result, humanitarian organisations increasingly acknowledge the need to take a ‘landscape approach’ when assessing disaster risk.”

As there is still much work to do influence policy & practice on DRR, Wetlands International has made ‘ecosystem smart disaster risk reduction’ a core focus of its work. Together with our partners, we run a programme that spans nine countries across three continents to get ecosystem approaches integrated DRR programs, both on the ground as at the policy level.

Have a closer look at the DRR work that we do in Mali, Kenya and Indonesia.

Find out more about the International Day or Disaster Reduction.

For more information: check out: Reducing Disaster Risk or contact Marie-José Vervest, project manager DRR.

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