Disasters cause a vicious cycle of destruction, poverty, increased vulnerability and growing poverty as they recur. The past two decades have seen a significant increase in the frequency and intensity of disasters – particularly climate-induced disasters. Their impacts are undermining collective efforts towards alleviating global poverty, specifically in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Every time a disaster hits, whether it is flooding, an earthquake, a hurricane or landslides, it destroys people’s property and, too often, takes lives. Every time there is a disaster, however small from the global perspective, it destroys people’s investment for the better life that they want to have.
Margareta Wahlström, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction
For poor people, climate change is not just another cause of economic loss. It affects every aspect of their way of life, and threatens to condemn whole generations to a cycle of repeated disasters and increasing poverty.
Rising sea levels mean that low-lying countries such as Bangladesh and small island states may disappear altogether. Changes in climate patterns and resulting disasters have a devastating impact on the ability of people living in poverty to farm their land and ensure they are able to feed their families. By helping communities to adapt to the effects of climate change today, we can reduce the impact of disasters tomorrow – and start to lift people out of poverty in the process.
What is ActionAid doing?
- Supporting communities to analyse the hazards they face - such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes or drought – so that they can prepare for, prevent and mitigate the impacts of potential disasters
- Raising awareness of what to do in the event of disasters, so people can act quickly to save themselves, their property and assets such as livestock Watch a short film of how 7 year old Lamia Akter from Bangladesh saved her family from Cyclone Sidr
- Supporting farmers to adapt to changing cropping patterns resulting from global warming and changes in rainy and dry seasons
- Bringing the voices of those affected by disasters to the attention of governments and international institutions, to demand that they invest in measures to reduce their citizens’ risk to disaster
- Lobbying for governments to integrate disaster risk reduction measures in their national plans
- Researching the impact of climate change, particularly on people’s livelihoods, so that we can work with communities on projects that provide long term solutions to their problems