Dr Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement on the occasion of the International Day for Disaster Reduction on 13 October:
Far too often, extreme natural events cause terrible suffering and severe humanitarian emergencies. In the past 20 years, the number of natural disasters worldwide has more than doubled. Severe storms such as Cyclone Idai in Mozambique and Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas are just two examples of the devastating consequences and humanitarian emergencies that such disasters can cause.
We therefore need to work to mitigate the humanitarian impact on the people affected and help them to be better prepared. By improving prevention measures and people’s resilience in high-risk areas, we can save lives and reduce suffering. The Federal Government plays a part in this by promoting the development of innovative approaches to disaster reduction.
Natural disasters do not stop at national borders, and they can affect any country in the world. This means that disaster risk reduction is a task for the entire international community. We thus need to improve how we coordinate and pool our efforts to reduce disaster risk and to promote international cooperation. We must keep up our efforts, as the better disaster risk reduction is, the more lives we can save and the more suffering we can prevent.
The Federal Foreign Office has been active in the field of disaster risk reduction since 1981. In 1989, the United Nations declared 13 October International Day for Disaster Reduction in order to raise public awareness of the issue.
Seventy-five percent of natural disasters are now caused by extreme weather events. Improving adaptation to the growing risks posed by extreme weather is therefore a priority of the Federal Foreign Office’s humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian partners receive support to help them prepare more effectively for such events. Forecast-based financing forms an important element of this package of measures. Funds for humanitarian assistance are made available before extreme weather events occur. The funds are released as soon as certain threshold levels are reached, which are determined on the basis of detailed extreme weather forecasts and risk analysis. The aim of the forecast-based financing approach is to predict impending extreme weather disasters more accurately and, if possible, to reduce their impact and prevent suffering. The Federal Foreign Office will continue working to drive forward innovative approaches to disaster reduction worldwide.