The everyday disaster of Gamos and GNDR data
Written by Administrator
Tuesday, 17 March 2015 09:37
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The Sendai conference is currently under way in Japan. This is the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, and is where the great and the good are gathering to discuss what can be put in place to take up where the current Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), signed in 2005, leaves off when it expires this year. Their job is to review progress made during the HFA, and to agree on an international framework for disaster risk reduction and resilience.

The Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction (GNDR) have worked on monitoring progress made under the HFA since 2009. But they have taken a grass roots approach, conducting large scale face to face surveys with people working in disaster prone areas in around 70 countries across Latin America, Africa, and Asia. They have done a similar exercise every two years, and Gamos have contributed by assisting with analysing the data.

The most recent data was gathered from 14 countries of Latin America just earlier this year. The data was structured around a 'conversation', during which respondents were asked to describe the top priority threats that they faced, the impacts it had on them and their families, and then to explain what actions they are taking, and what barriers they face. The fascinating thing about the results was that although top priority threats included the events we usually think of as disasters, like tsunamis, earthquakes, landslides, floods and so on, they also included things like "unemployment", "domestic violence", "traffic accidents" and more mundane events.

This confirmed a view that GNDR has been hearing from their members for a while now – that it is regular, everyday disasters that are keeping people in poverty rather than the rarely experienced but catastrophic disasters. We struggled with how to represent the data, because it is based on people's perceptions rather than on hard numbers of events. More importantly, there is no clear definition of what constitutes an intensive disaster! And I guess this highlights the strength of GNDR's 'Views from the Frontline' approach – it tries to capture local opinions on what constitutes a real disaster. In the end, GNDR went to press with the headline:

90% of disasters identified by respondents are 'everyday disasters'

The importance of these everyday disasters is something new that is only just beginning to be understood. GNDR's Reality Check campaign highlights the need to understand the realities of disasters face at local level, and points to a gap between DRR policies and what actually happens at ground level. At the Sendai conference, GNDR will also be announcing the Frontline process, which will extend the survey process to additional countries.