CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT FOR HAZARD RISK REDUCTION AND ADAPTATION
Natural disasters have always swept the Earth, prompting people to learn to live with some degree of risk. With time, prosperous communities have succeeded in setting up strategies to protect themselves. But vulnerable populations who rely on natural resources to make a living have often massively suffered from the fury of natural elements. Today, the risk posed by natural disasters is oftentimes reinforced by systemic and human-induced climate change that alters both the frequency and the magnitude of extreme events. According to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED, www.cred.be) at the Université Catholique de Louvain, natural disasters increased by 233% from 2000 to 2009 compared with the period 1980 to 1989, and by 67% compared with the period 1990 to 1999 (see Table 1 for more details on disaster events). As the Food and Agriculture Organization notes (FAO, 2008)1, the expected frequency and intensity of extreme climate events is likely to worsen the scale of disasters, with multiple side effects affecting agriculture production, food availability, human health, and a potential rise in social conflicts. Since the beginning of the 1970s, public-political awareness of how disasters evolve and the scientific understanding of their causes have grown in parallel. At that time, however, approaches to mitigate their impact on society were based on previous experience and were, in general, poorly coordinated.