International Day for Disaster Reduction - Speech of UNDP Country Director

Oct 13, 2015

Distinguished Excellences,

Senior leadership of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management,

Media, Development Partners, Colleagues and Friends,

On behalf of UNDP, I am delighted to join you in celebrating this year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction. It is a day when people come together to celebrate the ways in which people and communities are working to reduce disaster risks, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness. I am particularly pleased to see the enthusiastic participation of school children and youth in the celebrations.

As you are all aware, natural disasters and climate change induced impacts are on the rise at an unprecedented scale. South Sudan is also prone to natural disasters and weather events such as flooding and droughts. Disasters pose recurrent development challenges—they severely undermine food security, and wipe out community assets and properties. The brunt of the impacts are borne by women, children, elderly and people with disabilities.

The damaged infrastructure and lack of connectivity further constrains the ability of the state and international community to deliver essential services including health and education.

Economic losses and social impacts resulting from disasters can be greatly reduced through innovative national policies and programming, early warning and rapid response systems in all high risk areas, and integrating disaster risk reduction approach in to humanitarian assistance and development programs.

An enabling policy environment for disaster risk reduction, put in practice at various levels, is key. Mainstreaming disaster risk reduction is the most cost effective investment when compared with recurrent emergency relief responses.

Celebrating the International Day for Disaster Reduction helps raise awareness about the vital importance of disaster risk reduction in our daily lives. The event is intended to reach out to each and every citizen in the country and encourage them to take part in building more disaster resilient communities.

This year’s celebration is centered on the theme – “Knowledge for Life.” The focus is on the traditional, indigenous and local knowledge which complement modern science and add to an individuals’ and societies’ resilience.

As we celebrate this year’s International Day for Disaster reduction, many South Sudanese continue to face the risks of recurrent floods and drought, other extreme weather events caused by climate change.

UNDP is partnering with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management to implement the Food security, Emergency floods response and recovery project to strengthen institutional capacity to prepare for, mitigate and respond to disasters at national, local and community levels.  The Project is financed with the generous support of the Government and people of Japan of 4.8 million USD—thank you! Let me also thank the highly dedicated and professional leaders in the MHADM for their work, without which all the good results would not have been possible.

UNDP will continue working with government and local communities, who face the risks of facing the immediate aftermath of disasters, to respond to disasters and with government agencies and partners best placed to reduce disaster risk.

I wish you all a day of productive day of learning and celebration.