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Rural disaster risk – poverty interface. Prepared for global assessment report on disaster reduction

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Author:
T. Mitchell
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The majority of the world’s poorest people live and work in rural areas. This research paper examines links between disaster risk and poverty trends to inform the central analysis and illustrate the dynamics of the disaster-poverty interface. It looks at disaster risk-poverty interface through the lens of rural livelihoods providing a framework for assessing rural poverty and disaster risk.  The paper:

considers the relationship between rural poverty and exposure to hazards by analysing the specificities of rural dimensions of poverty.
discusses vulnerability and how rural poverty contributes to and exacerbates vulnerabilities and hazards
explores how processes that link rural and urban areas influence disaster risk for poor people living in rural areas
examines the potential threats and opportunities posed by climate change for poor people in rural areas
sets out different approaches to managing rural poverty and disaster risk focusing on measures to reduce vulnerability to both.

The study sets the rural analysis within a livelihoods framework, embodying notions of well being as the absence of poverty. It states that encompassing politics and policy processes and agro-ecological conditions, livelihoods approaches consider the combinations of human, financial, social, political, and natural capital  - that are necessary to follow different livelihoods strategies and achieve different outcomes. It considers the role of formal and informal institutions and institutional dynamics in mediating capabilities and improving well being and argues that livelihoods approaches embody multi-dimensional concepts of poverty. To tackle rural poverty and disaster risk, the paper makes the following recommendations and policy interventions:

build the asset base of poor rural people - asset-based policies have to build up the asset base of the rural poor, maintain access to assets and minimise disruption in event of disaster.
mainstream DRR into PRSPs by integrating local government disaster risk management within national development programmes and supporting the capacity of civil society to hold local governments to account.
DRR must form a closer relationship with social protection by transforming productive livelihoods and grounding in an understanding of the structural root causes of poverty in a particular region or sector, permitting more effective targeting of vulnerability to multiple shocks and stresses.