Legislation for mainstreaming disaster risk reduction

Legislation for mainstreaming disaster risk reduction

How did South Africa successfully develop DRR legislation?

Legislation is crucial for mainstreaming disaster risk reduction (DRR) into development. This report aims to support national and donor governments to develop and improve their DRR legislation. The report:

  • reviews existing disaster risk reduction legislation
  • examines the building blocks of successful legislative reform according to individual nations’ experience
  • presents a detailed account of the reform process in South Africa from 1994 to 2005 that resulted in internationally-regarded DRR legislation

The report identifies six preconditions that shaped the success of South Africa’s disaster risk reduction legislation:

  • an enabling political and legal context
  • a regional disaster risk context characterised by increasing severity and complexity
  • a local professional context seeking to align itself with international best practice
  • an international professional context that supported local initiative and responsibility
  • high levels of local agency, characterised by continuity and individual capacity, skill, integrity and creative initiative
  • a change process that enabled gradual professional reorientation and incremental policy adjustment

Finally, the report offers recommendations for those undertaking legislative reform for DRR. Among others:

  • reform requires sustained, high-level political support
  • reform is greatly facilitated by a well-placed and respected policy champion with technical knowledge, skill, commitment and creative initiative
  • the leadership of the reform process must be explicitly committed to broad stakeholder consultation
  • legislation should fit into existing government planning cycles and procedures for implementation and monitoring
  • external facilitators can enable the reform process if the process is led by national stakeholders
  • DRR should have a clear identity, developed through consultation, that differentiates it from pre-existing relief-oriented disaster management
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