Building Disaster Resilience for Aid Effectiveness

Published: 30 November 2011

Statement by Mr Yoo Chong-Ha, former President of the Korean Red Cross and former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea, on behalf of the IFRC, at the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, in Busan, Republic of Korea

Thank you Madam Chair for the floor given to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). As the former President of the Korean Red Cross and a Korean citizen, I welcome you to the Republic of Korea, a country where aid has proved its effectiveness in promoting national development at all levels since the end of the Korean War.  

I. Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development

Madam Chair, I have listened with great interest to your statement and the remarks of the other panelists before me and wish to start mine by saying how timely it is that we are meeting in Busan on aid effectiveness, and taking up the issue of disaster resilience as one of the key measures for development. 

Those of us who have witnessed the disastrous scenes of the Haiti earthquake, Japanese tsunami and recent floods in Bangkok, where essential infrastructure has been disrupted and peoples’ wellbeing has been dramatically impacted, would agree that any discussion of development, addressing disasters caused by natural hazards should be central to the deliberations around development effectiveness. In this regard, we congratulate the fact that for the first time disaster management is included in the aid effectiveness agenda and reflected in the Busan outcome paper.

Madam Chair,

Our years of experience in disaster management have led us to believe that there is an increasing  number of disasters around the world. This observation has most recently been substantiated in the IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation [1], which not only resonates our beliefs but predicts a further increase in the 21st century.

For the IFRC, disaster risk reduction interacts closely with sustainable development. Therefore, the IFRC’s approach to disaster management not only involves meeting basic needs in the aftermath of a disaster but also building on and developing the affected population’s capacities, skills and resources so that they are less vulnerable to and  more resilient to meet future crises. 

We also work in the areas of social services, medical and health promotion services, and blood transfusion services. At the Ministerial conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Korea in Incheon last year, the role of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement as the implementing partners for disaster risk reduction was well recognised. We believe enhanced National Societies with their auxiliary support to local governments strengthens national systems and further contributes to effective cooperation with regional and international partners.   

II. Investment in disaster management including risk reduction for better development outcomes

Madam Chair, 

Prevention pays. Countries can no longer afford to resort to expensive measures after a disaster strikes and in demonstration of this, in 2010 we spent almost USD 100 million (88.1 million CHF) on DRR globally covering 93 countries and reached out to 17.6 million vulnerable people. 

Climate change will certainly bring additional development challenges to countries in situations of fragility and vulnerability. Therefore, building safer, healthier and more resilient communities through disaster and disease risk reduction while addressing climate change is essential for development at national and sub-national levels. Aid agencies need to provide long term assistance in a manner that strengthens the capacity of country systems and local institutions and through which the communities and at the same time reinforces the dynamics of building the local resilience.

The IFRC, therefore, has committed to a provision of at least 10 percent of every appeal for international disaster response for longer term disaster preparedness and risk reduction work and would like to urge donors to match this level of commitment to ensure sustainable development gains. We know far too well that every dollar spent in disaster risk reduction saves twenty five dollars in disaster response.

III. Global partnership for effective development cooperation 

Madam Chair,

Since the adoption of Paris Declaration and its follow-up, much progress has been made by governments, international community and civil society.  From the IFRC perspective, partners and their role in supporting public authorities, such as the involvement of civil society, including the Red Cross Red Crescent, is crucial for increasing development effectiveness. This partnership also plays an important role in bridging the gap in public services and can enhance service delivery and reduce vulnerabilities, thus increasing the momentum in “Improving the quality and effectiveness of development co-operation”.

To this extent, I take this opportunity to share with you an anecdote, of particular significance to Busan and around building a new global partnership for effective development cooperation, the motto of the 4th High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness.

The Republic of Korea today is an important actor in the international aid community. The country has successfully rebuilt itself after the Korean War thanks to the support of the international community including the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. During the war, thousands of International Red Cross relief personnel from Denmark, India, Norway, and Sweden worked to establish hospital services in Busan to take care of millions of patients affected by the war.

Even then the IFRC was thinking about sustainability and a good example was the Swedish field Hospital, which became the Swedish Hospital in Busan after the war in 1953, and the Swedish medical team stayed until 1957, which later changed to the National Medical Centre – the Scandinavian Hospital, in Seoul. We South Koreans are grateful for the international aid provided at that time which has contributed to our development today. 

This story shows the importance of effective aid and partnership as well as country ownership. Donors and development partners, where appropriate, should work with national authorities to look into the possibility of developing an enhanced structure to extend development effectiveness for instance through disaster risk reduction to local communities.

In conjunction, it is essential that aid recipient countries include disaster preparedness and risk reduction into their national development plan and budget. This will undoubtedly help alleviate suffering and build resilience in communities and societies, and safeguard development gains to rise up quickly.

Madam Chair,

Our hope is that the MDGs achievement in 2015 does not just hit a milestone for global development. Much needs to be done beyond 2015.  Vulnerabilities and associated root causes, including risk and vulnerability to disasters, hinder development and need to be looked at carefully and thoroughly, in particular in countries and regions faced with situations of fragility and vulnerability. 

Strengthening partnership is of particular importance to us and we welcome the opportunity to work more closely with UNISDR, the World Bank and others. We strive to support member National Societies and their governments through South-South and North-South collaboration as well as coordinated efforts to integrate humanitarian, recovery and long-term development activities while seeking always to encourage local ownership for increased development effectiveness.

Thank you.

[1] The Report was launched on 18 November 2011, see http://www.ipcc.ch/news_and_events/docs/srex/SREX_fact_sheet.pdf

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