IRRC No. 264

Henry Dunant Institute: From disaster relief to development

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The links between disasters and development have been extensively discussed in recent years among international organizations. It was primarily the African famine during the first half of the 1980s that initiated this discussion. Famine was no longer perceived as the inevitable consequence of drought. Instead, many saw the African disaster as the symptom of serious development failures. Had there been better foresight in earlier development, stronger efforts to reduce vulnerability in the populations, and a better preparedness to meet the crisis, it was observed, the devastating effects of the drought could have been prevented. Eventually, a similar perception began to embrace most disasters affecting developing countries. It led to the conclusion that disaster prevention, and the reduction of human vulnerability in particular, must be among the primary goals of development.

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