When disasters and conflicts collide: improving links between disaster resilience and conflict prevention

When disasters and conflicts collide: improving links between disaster resilience and conflict prevention

This paper by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) argues for increased focus on the conflict-disaster nexus in fragile and conflict-affected states. It is based on a study assessing the evidence base on the ways in which natural disasters affect conflict, how conflict affects natural disasters and how people are affected by multiple risks. The authors consider what can be learned from current practices to improve conflict prevention, statebuilding and disaster risk management to build resilience. They find that the complex conditions of intersecting vulnerability and risk require grounding an understanding of them in specific contexts. In most cases, natural disasters are found to exacerbate pre-existing conflicts. The paper reveals that conflict and fragility increase natural disasters' impacts, particularly by increasing vulnerability to natural hazards. There appears to be a close association between the risk of mortality from drought, state fragility and climate change vulnerability; however, the intersection between mortality risk from other natural hazards (such as cyclones and earthquakes) and state fragility appears to be much less pronounced.

Recommendations for international policy, programming and finance include the following.

  • Managing risk in fragile and conflict-affected states should be a key feature of the post-2015 disaster risk reduction (DRR) agreement (Hyogo Framework 2).
  • The World Bank 2014 World Development Report should set a new agenda for managing risks in fragile and conflict-affected states.
  • The Political Champions for Disaster Resilience Group should promote inter-agency coordination to build resilience in fragile and conflict-affected states, developing regional and national approaches to ex-ante risk management in such settings.
  • The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) should scale up programming in fragile and conflict-affected states and create closer links with the conflict prevention work of the World Bank.
The paper further recommends that bilateral donors and United Nations agencies create joint risk taskforces in key fragile and conflict-affected states and explore new ways of working and building the evidence base about how to better invest in ex-ante risk management measures. Developing new conceptual frameworks and analytical tools is also advised, as well as modifying existing ones (such as statebuilding, peacebuilding and conflict sensitivity frameworks) to reflect disaster risk and vice versa.
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