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International Disaster Reduction Day 2015

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In 2014, 317 natural disasters were reported worldwide; affecting almost 107 million people, causing 8,186 deaths, and almost EUR 88 billion in economic losses (CRED, 2015). With the effects of climate change increasing the frequency, severity and magnitude of extreme weather events, strengthening resilience is vital to saving lives, and protecting livelihoods.

Today marks the International Day for Disaster Reduction; a day to underline the value of disaster risk reduction and to recognise the steps that people are taking to reduce their risks. At this time last year, we ran a joint campaign with the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and 12 Red Cross Societies in the EU to increase awareness of the importance of strengthening resilience in a context of growing vulnerability to natural disasters.

It has recently won at the European Digital Communications Awards, which recognise outstanding achievements, professional campaigning and strategic thinking in online communications.

The campaign evolved around an interactive web documentary: the Disaster Resilience Journal, which for 42 days, released daily stories of resilience from 24 countries around the world. Each article was associated with a general theme; Be Informed - identifying the issues that at-risk communities face; Be Prepared - recognising the steps they take to prepare for disasters; and Become Resilient - understanding what their resilience means and looks like.

With a mixture of personal accounts of preparedness and survival, interviews with risk reduction experts and practitioners, informative infographics, and interactive games and quizzes, audiences could learn about disaster resilience and get a glimpse into some of the work of the Red Cross Red Crescent that is enabled by EU-funding. The Journal shared the story of Lenita Macavinta-Diego, a Red Cross community volunteer who through early warning helped ensure that not one life was lost in Aliputos during Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. On another day, it highlighted the experiences of a community from Chocó in Colombia who have built their houses on stilts to avoid flooding. On yet another day, it introduced Silas Kere, a farmer from the Solomon Islands who is experimenting with new plants and techniques to resist the changing climate.

Throughout the world, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies work with communities at risk through ECHO’s Disaster Preparedness Programme (DIPECHO) – engaging in disaster risk reduction and preparedness to help strengthen resilience, reduce losses and improve recovery times. Activities range from terracing to avoid soil erosion in Rwanda, to carrying out evacuation drills in Bangladesh, and planting vegetable gardens in Mauritania’s desert.

The Journal was combined with a participative social media campaign, live events, and media outreach in 12 countries, to encourage EU citizens to reflect about their own preparedness and resilience. With the Croatian Red Cross holding 15 events involving people of all ages across the country, the Spanish and Bulgarian Red Cross working with journalists to increase understanding of resilience programming, and the Italian Red Cross Youth sharing and engaging with a first aid quiz on Facebook, National Red Cross Societies localised and adapted the campaign to best resonate with their audiences. Through collaboration and peer-to-peer learning, the campaign successfully leveraged audiences across Europe, reaching over 125 million sessions, impressions and participants.

Disaster Resilience Journal

The Disaster Resilience Journal is an interactive documentary that examines how individuals, communities and countries around the world are building resilience in a landscape of climate change, and social, economic, and cultural shifts.

For media inquiries, please contact Eva Oyon on: eva.oyon@redcross.eu or +32 2 235 09 22