Covid-19: what if we had been on track to achieve the Sendai Framework?

15 June 2020


By Valeria Drigo, Policy Lead

15 June 2020

The Sendai Framework, adopted in 2015, is a roadmap for governments to build resilience. It guides countries in managing and reducing the impact of hazards, including biological ones like Covid-19.1

Seven targets, listed from A-G, have been set for countries to achieve by 2030. Yet various reviews2 of progress to date say that achievements are far from satisfactory.

In Africa, disaster mortality (Target A) increased 13% between 2015–2016 and 2017–2018. Globally, 68% of economic losses (Target C) between 2005 and 2017 were caused by localised and frequent disasters, which continue to be underestimated.

Target E, which calls for national and local disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategies to be adopted by 2020, is lagging behind. According to UNDRR, by September 2019 only six countries had reported that their national DRR strategy was in full compliance with the Sendai Framework.

Implementation is another struggle in many countries. Research conducted among African countries shows that only 4% fully implement their DRR strategies.

The Sendai Framework outlines four priority areas for governments to focus their actions: all have a role to play in preventing disasters like Covid-19. Fully committing to achieving the Sendai Framework and integrating risk considerations into all sectors should be a major focus for governments.

Priority 1: Better understanding of risk
This would help map vulnerable groups, and assess possible cascading effects of Covid-19 response policies. The WHO recommends risk analysis and mapping of vulnerable populations as a step for preparedness and response.3

Priority 2: Stronger national and local governance
This means better cross-sectoral coordination and communication with sub-national governments. It could result in better coordination of Covid-19 responses to limit effects in other sectors.

One step towards stronger governance is appointing a team as a focal point for monitoring DRR in each ministry. The Government of Colombia took this approach to ensure cross-sectoral coordination.4

Priority 3: Investing in resilience
For example, reforestation – often used to reduce the risk of flooding or landslides – would reduce the movement of animals towards inhabited areas, lowering the risk of new animal-carried diseases spreading.5

Priority 4: Better preparedness
This would help build a rapid and coordinated response to a steep rise in Covid-19 cases. A practical step towards this is the creation of community preparedness groups, under the leadership of local government units.

Several local governments in the Philippines have taken this approach and now coordinate preparedness and response with community-based groups.6

Progress in achieving the targets of the Sendai Framework is experienced directly by communities. GNDR’s Views from the Frontline data shows that many people around the world feel disaster losses are not decreasing. Among almost 100,000 responders, more than half think disaster losses have either remained the same or increased in the past 5-10 years.

Conversely responses for countries where disaster risk reduction is a priority are very different. Almost 80% of respondents in Bangladesh, for example, feel that disaster losses have significantly or moderately decreased in the past decade.

Communities have a role in implementing the Sendai Framework. Indeed stronger collaboration between governments and civil society is one of the guiding principles of the framework.

Civil society organisations can work with governments in many ways to support the targets. For example, opening up spaces for community engagement, gathering local data, and collecting local solutions and best practices.

As in many disasters, this pandemic provides a window of opportunity to recommit to DRR. Reviewing national mechanisms should result in strong and effective cross-sectoral policies, informed by local realities, owned by local actors and adequately financed.

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