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Desk review on trends in the promotion of community-based disaster risk reduction through legislation

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This paper presents a review of literature and recently adopted laws that are linked to the Hyogo Framework goals. It examines how disaster management legislations may promote tangible results at the community level and why it sometimes fails to do so.The report notes that more specific attention to community-level risk reduction is slowly making its way into disaster management laws in various parts of the world. The Global Assessment Review (2009) showed an overall improvement of capacities, policy, legislation, plans and mechanisms for the reduction of mortality risk, in particular for weather-related hazards in several countries.It argues that government policies and actions continue to focus on disaster response, often with disaster management being handled by civil protection ministries. It further argues that disaster management acts are never the only legislations related to reducing risks. Even those states that have adopted what they refer to as 'comprehensive' disaster management acts also regulate various aspects of risk reduction through a myriad of sectoral laws both at the national and the provincial/local levels.The first step for any risk reduction activity is to evaluate risks and vulnerabilities. In some countries, generalised risk analyses are prepared at the national level, but specific analyses are rarely completed at the community level. It notes that communities need pertinent information about disaster risks for them to be active in reducing their own disaster risks. However, the communities do not feel adequately engaged in planning and decision-making about disaster risk reduction. Still, recent disaster management laws have sought to foster greater community participation in a number of ways. Some nations have found creative ways to provide incentives for communities to become more active managers of disaster risks.The review gives the following recommendations:

there is need to provide information to communities to enable them to participate in the disaster risk reduction process
legislation should contribute to community involvement in disaster risk reduction by empowering individuals to insist on compliance with stated goals and plans
governments and disaster management professionals need to provide civil or criminal penalties with regard to governmental and communal negligence in disaster management
there is a need to build institutions, including legal frameworks, to sustain disaster risk reduction action as an ongoing concern.