Annually since 21st of December, 2009, the 13th of October has been celebrated as the International Day for Disaster Reduction globally. The objective of the observance is to raise awareness of how people are taking action to reduce their risk to disasters. Many disasters, especially those of natural causes hit different parts of the world yearly and the United Nations has recognised that these disasters hit hardest at the local level with the potential to cause loss of life and great social and economic upheaval. Sudden onset disasters displace millions of people every year. In 2014, 19.3 million people were newly displaced by disasters. Disasters, many of which are exacerbated by climate change, have a negative impact on investment in sustainable development and the desired outcomes.

Most of these sudden onset disasters displace millions of people every year. In 2014, 19.3 million people were newly displaced by disasters. Nigeria has seen its fair share of disasters, especially flash floods, in recent times. Disasters, many of which are exacerbated by climate change, have a negative impact on investment in sustainable development and the desired outcomes. It is also at the local level that capacities need to be strengthened urgently.

‘Home Safe Home: Reducing Exposure, Reducing Displacement’ is the slogan for this year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction following a year in which 24.2 million new displacements by disasters were recorded by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). The goal is to use the International Day for Disaster Reduction to provide an advocacy platform to all governments, local governments, disaster management agencies, UN agencies, NGOs, Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, civil society groups, businesses, academic and scientific institutions, and other interested groups to demonstrate support for gender-sensitive implementation of the Sendai Framework and to highlight achievements and challenges in so doing with a particular focus on reducing the numbers of people affected by disasters.

While not every natural hazard has devastating consequences, a combination of natural, cultural, social and political factors contributes to disasters. Over the last twenty years, over 1.35 million people have died as a result of their vulnerability and exposure to natural hazards with women and girls bearing a heavy toll; and over four billion have been displaced and left homeless, injured or in need of emergency assistance. Deaths due to disasters from weather- and climate-related events (floods, storms, and heatwaves in particular) account for the majority of disaster deaths in most years and there has been a sustained rise, more than doubling, over the past forty years.

This year’s campaign seeks to raise global awareness about effective actions, policies, and practices taken to reduce exposure to disaster risk at the community level thereby contributing to saving homes and livelihoods. This is a considerable challenge which can be accomplished only through coordination, cooperation, and collaboration among many stakeholders. Reducing the risks which accrue from rapid urbanisation, poverty, environmental deterioration and climate change is best achieved by avoiding the creation of these risks in the first place. We are all responsible, and the success of the Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs) depends on it.

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