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The matter is not if, but when and where: The role of capacity development in disaster risk reduction aiming for a sustainable water supply and sanitation

This book chapter describes the Programme for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (PAARSS) in Mozambique and draws lessons about linkages between disaster risk reduction and sustainable water and sanitation strategies.

Madeleine Fogde / Published on 23 May 2013

Fogde, M., L. Macario and K. Carey (2013). The matter is not if, but when and where: The role of capacity development in disaster risk reduction aiming for a sustainable water supply and sanitation. The Role of Ecosystems in Disaster Risk Reduction, F.G. Renaud, K. Sudmeier-Rieux and M. Estrella (eds.). United Nations University Press.

The geographic location of Mozambique makes it highly prone to disasters, with 53 logged in the last 45 years, which has led to a common understanding that it is not a matter of if, but when and were the next disaster will strike.

PAARSS, which was implemented from 1999 to 2007, aimed to provide sustainable water and sanitation services in four flood-prone districts, working with the provincial and local authorities. Because floods quickly interfered with the work, an effort was made too build community resilience, and PAARSS planning and capacity-building on disaster risk reduction was ultimately coordinated with provincial disaster management plans and actions.

PAARSS offers lessons on how a development programme can incorporate resilience and disaster risk reduction measures and achieve its goals. This chapter focuses specifically on addressing the lac of access to potable water and sanitation, which can weaken a population’s defenses during and after an extreme event.

The chapter is part of a book that aims to provide an overview of knowledge and practice in the multidisciplinary field of ecosystem management and DRR to encourage and further develop dialogues between scientists, practitioners, policy-makers and development planners.

The increasing worldwide trend in disasters, which will be aggravated by global environmental change (including climate change), urges us to implement new approaches to hazard mitigation, as well as exposure and vulnerability reduction. Ecosystem management is a well-tested solution that can impact all elements of the disaster risk equation – mitigating hazards, reducing exposure, reducing vulnerabilities and increasing the resilience of exposed communities – but the uptake of ecosystem-based approaches for DRR has been slow. The environmental and disaster management communities typically work independently from each other; the contribution of ecosystems management to DRR is highly undervalued compared to engineered solutions and thus not attributed appropriate budget allocations; and there are poor science–policy interactions on ecosystem-based DRR, which have led to unclear and sometimes contradictory scientific information on the role of ecosystems in DRR.

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Madeleine Fogde
Madeleine Fogde

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