Disaster Risk Reduction and Rehabilitation

ERCS disaster preparedness unit major activities between 2007-2010 and plan 2011-2015

1. Background

Ethiopia is one of the disaster prone countries in sub Saharan Africa. Drought, flooding, conflict, crop pest, hailstorm, landslide and others are the widely experienced disasters in the country. These disasters coupled with poverty, high population pressure, climate change, ever increasing prices on basic requirements of the people have made many individuals, households and the community by large vulnerable for varying disasters.

The mismatch between fast growing population in one hand and declining population supporting capacity of land on the other hand has by far remained the major cause for the existence of high level rural poverty in Ethiopia.

Climate change and environmental degradation have also been the major challenges the country encountered in the past many decades. The unpredictable rainy seasons that affected the cropping calendar, the spread of malaria in previously malaria free mid altitude, increased incidence of bush fire, the reduced volume of surface and ground water, drastic decrease in the number of wild animals are some of the indicators that exhibited climate change and environmental degradation which remain as major challenges in the country.

Those social groups such as poor farmers and pastoralists in rural part and the urban poor in towns are the most suffering from the impacts of the various disasters. Since their capacity is very limited they couldn?t resist, cope with and recover from even small shocks. The frequently observed disasters particularly drought and flood has reduced the ability of the vulnerable people to survive.

Although, many factors aggravated the food security situation, drought due to adverse climatic condition has contributed a lot in deteriorating the availability, access and utilization of food in the country. Frequency of famine, high malnutrition, and the increasing number of people affected by drought, the expansion of the drought prone areas from northern part to the potentially rich southern part of the country and dependency on food aid has been increasing from time to time. Some studies indicated that more than 5 million people are estimated to be chronically food insecure in the country even in the normal harvesting period.

Both flash and over flow flooding have been common along the major watersheds in the country. However, these days flooding have become devastating. It has been increasing in magnitude and the impact resulted on the vulnerable people. The number of people and areas affected, number of deaths, infrastructure and property damage has been increasing dramatically in the past few years For example the 2006 flood killed more than 600 people, affected 200,000 and damaged property estimated more than 40,000,000 birr worth which was not observed in the recent past in the history of the country.

Although reduced in frequency and magnitude, Ethiopia is still one of the conflict prone countries in Africa. International armed conflict and internal violence have been the main threats hampering the country?s development endeavor. The fragile border conflict with Eritrea, the tense situation with Somalia and sporadic ethnical clashes are the potential danger that could potentially result heavy humanitarian crises.

This document overview some ERCS disaster preparedness activities undertaken by its capacity, with the support of the movement members and others to prepare for and address the above major disasters in the past three years and shortly highlight its plan in the year 2011-2015.

2. Definition, objectives and expected results of ERCS disaster preparedness unit

According to IFRC definition disaster preparedness refers to measures taken to prepare for and reduce the effects of disasters. That is, to predict and where possible prevent them, mitigates their impact on vulnerable populations, and responds to and effectively copes with their consequences.

2.1 General Objective

To save lives, protect livelihoods and recover effectively from disaster and crises

2.2 Specific objectives

Increasing the preparedness capacity of ERCS at national and community level for efficient and effective disaster response to small and medium disasters/emergencies occurring in the country.

2.3 Output/results

1. The preparedness capacity of ERCS to timely and effectively respond to small and medium scale disasters improved and strengthened.

2. The lives and livelihoods of the vulnerable people improved through risk reduction activities such as early warning information systems, mitigation measures and recovery interventions.

3. The relationship between ERCS and movement and non movement partners as well as concerned stakeholders (Government and the community) improved and strengthened for an effective emergency and recovery interventions sought.

3. ERCS DP recent past (2007-2010) experiences and 2011- 2015 plan

ERCS as an old humanitarian agency have been involved in much humanitarian assistances in response to the major disasters and others since long time in the country. Together with the movement members (ICRC, IFRC and Sister Societies) and other stakeholders, ERCS enabled to undertake much relief, recovery and some development interventions in drought, flood and conflict affected areas all over the country benefiting millions of vulnerable people since its inception in 1935.

3.1 Emergency assessment and vulnerability and capacity assessment (VCA)

With the financial support of IFRC/DFID and ICRC in the past three years (2007-to date) the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Department (DPPD) together with other departments and stakeholders conducted more than 17 emergency assessments and five VCA in drought, flood and conflict induced disastrous areas in the country. Based on the emergency and VCA assessment findings different relief assistances and rehabilitations including provision of food, non food, water through trucking, agricultural seeds and tools, have been provided for more than 559,234 beneficiaries most of whom were victims of drought, flooding and conflict.

Considering that disaster preparedness as a continues and integrated process resulting from a wide range of activities undertaken by all stakeholders ERCS, DPPD has established working relation with pertinent in house departments,? government and non government institutions like MOARD particularly DRMFS, UN agencies and NGOs participating in DRMFS lead early warning system.

Emergency need assessment and vulnerability capacity assessments will be the major tools to undertake both emergency and recovery activities in the up coming years between 2011 and 2015.