Evaluating the implementation of the Hyogo framework for action in the Kabokweni location : views from the frontline perspective
Dlamini, Phiwinhlanhla Prudence
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Although disaster risk reduction is still not considered a priority by many countries and organisations, there is significant progress made towards the reduction of disaster risk. The experience of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR, 1990–1999) prompted a major conceptual shift from disaster response to disaster reduction underscoring the crucial role of human action (UNISDR, 2001:03). This circumstance led to the adoption of an International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (ISDR) in 1999 by the participants of the IDNDR Programme Forum. The adoption gave emphasis to the importance of a global strategy that encourages and facilitates concerted action to reduce risk and vulnerability to natural and related technological and environmental hazards. This research then focuses on the disaster risk reduction phenomenon and major or international initiatives and forums aimed at improving or raising the disaster risk reduction profile. It also focuses on disaster risk management in the South African context. In recent years, disaster risk reduction has grown in importance on the international agenda. This followed the prevalence of natural hazards such as floods, drought, earthquakes, tsunamis, as well as epidemics, which have had an increasing impact on humans, due to population growth, urbanization, rising poverty and the onset of global environmental changes. Aspects of environmental change include climate change, land degradation and deforestation. Practitioners and researchers widely acknowledge that poor planning, poverty and a range of other underlying factors create conditions of vulnerability that result in insufficient capacity or measures to reduce hazards‘ potentially negative consequences (IISD/UN/ISDR, 2007:01). It is in this light that in 2005 many governments around the world committed themselves to take action to reduce disaster risk, and thereby adopted a guiding document to reduce vulnerabilities to natural hazards, called the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA). The HFA was adopted in January 2005 at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, in Kobe Hyogo, Japan by 168 States. The aim of the HFA is to assist the efforts of nations and communities to become more resilient to, and cope better, with the hazards that threaten their development gains with the overriding goal of achieving a substantial reduction in global disaster risk. It also emphasizes that disaster risk reduction is a central issue for development policies, in addition to being of interest to various science, humanitarian and environmental fields. To help attain the expected outcome, the HFA identified five specific priorities for action (PFAs) which are: (i) making disaster risk reduction a priority; (ii) improving risk information and early warning; (iii) building a culture of safety and resilience; (iv) reducing the risks in key sectors; and (v) strengthening preparedness for response. The Global Network of Civil Society Organisation for Disaster Risk Reduction (GNDR) which was launched in 2007 in Geneva, is a major international network of civil society organisations working to influence and implement disaster risk reduction policies and practice around the world. The major programme of the global network is to collect perspective for the local level as to how the HFA is progressing. The Views from the Frontline (VFL) is the first independent assessment project undertaken towards the implementation of the HFA at the local level and is led by the Global Network. The aim of this project is to measure the gap between policy formulation at international level with the realities of policy execution at local level and to deepen the communication and coordination between different stakeholders on disaster risk reduction by involving government organisation and communities at the local level. The VFL perspective is that nationally formulated policies are not generating widespread systematic changes in local practices. There is a concern that the current approach is top–down and engages minimally with affected communities and fails to address their needs and capacities (GNDR, 2008:01). The main objective of this research was to provide an overview of progress made in the implementation of the HFA at local level particularly in the Kabokweni Location. The approach adopted in this study is called 'the Views from the Frontline', and explores the extent of the actual progress made toward the implementation and impact of the HFA priorities at local level, namely the Kabokweni community in the Mbombela Local Municipality (MLM) situated in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa.