Memorandum submitted by Tearfund
Tearfund welcomes the opportunity to submit
evidence to the International Development Committee's enquiry
on climate change and sustainable development.
Section 1: Introduction to Tearfund
Section 2: The adverse effects of global
climate changeextreme weather events
As a relief and development organisation we
are particularly concerned about the link between global climate
change and the increasing number and ferocity of extreme weather
events, and the implications such events have for sustainable
development. The IPCC predicts that the incidence of floods and
droughts will increase with intensified global warming. These
disasters affect life, health and livelihoods and in so doing
set back development by decades.
Section 3: The extent to which the poor are
susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change
The poor are the most susceptible to the adverse
effects of climate change in the form of extreme weather events;
they frequently live on marginal, vulnerable land which lacks
the infrastructure needed to cope with the impact of floods and
droughts. They are also generally less well informed and prepared
for disasters, and their livelihoods are often destroyed with
the land. Thus disasters both expose and widen the gap between
rich and poor.
Section 4: How the adverse effects of global
climate change can be mitigated
Disaster mitigation and preparedness (DMP) programmes
prove effective in reducing the vulnerability of the poor to disasters.
Section 5: Funding adaptation to global climate
change has a substantial role in mitigating its adverse effects
DMP remains a low priority in national and international
funding policy. However, the cost of investing in DMP compared
to the cost of post-disaster recovery is low.
Section 6: The presence or absence of national
or local coping strategies
Developing countries frequently do not have
local or national capacity to cope with climate change in the
form of extreme weather events: DMP is often a low priority in
national disaster management strategies. Post-disaster reconstruction
is given greater attention than DMP and reconstruction plans frequently
ignore vulnerability issues. Local government has a greater capacity
to undertake DMP than central government, but often lacks resources.
Section 7: The extent to which the links
between poverty and the environment are included in PRSPs
Tearfund's partners in Central America reveal
that national PRSPs lack sufficient focus on DMP. Without this
focus, PRSPs cannot be sustainable.
Section 8: Identification of countries or
vulnerable situations that are a priority for adaptation
Tearfund has undertaken a disaster risk assessment
project and has identified the 20 countries most vulnerable to
natural hazard related disasters. This information is used to
identify those countries where a greater focus on DMP is most
Greater attention must be paid to
the link between climate change and disasters and the implications
these have for sustainable development (including health implications).
If International Development Targets
are to be met, disaster mitigation and preparedness must be awarded
a higher priority in overseas aid programmes.
DMP must gain a higher political
profile, including being raised and discussed at the World Summit
for Sustainable Development 2002.
Donor governments must allocate more
resources for DMP programmes in disaster prone countries, and
place a greater emphasis on building their capacity to prepare
for floods and droughts.
Donor governments should raise developing
country awareness of the need to address vulnerability issues
in any poverty reduction strategy.
Tearfund is a UK Christian relief and development
organisation, working with over 400 partner groups in 90 countries
to tackle the causes and effects of poverty. We value our relationship
with partners and believe that partnership is the route through
which we can most effectively assist the poor.
Tearfund has considerable experience in disaster
management including preparedness and mitigation (DMP). Our disaster
management over the last five years has been focused on relief
and rehabilitation through our partners and Disaster Response
The DRT has been operational for seven years, and has responded
to disasters in Afghanistan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania,
Rwanda, and Zaire. It is currently operating in Burundi, Sierra
Leone, southern Sudan and Serbia. As a result of the increasing
frequency of climate related disasters in developing countries,
the DRT has broadened its mandate to include a response to these.
Tearfund also responds to climate related disasters through its
regional teams and partners. These have included the Orissa cyclone,
flooding in Bangladesh, Hurricane Mitch, and the long-term drought
in Afghanistan for which Tearfund launched an appeal before the
war on terrorism began.
Tearfund's experience in DMP has included the
running of training of trainers workshops, and community based
DMP programmes in collaboration with the Oxford Centre for Disaster
Studies, the EU and DFID. The Tearfund-initiated "Training
of Trainers in Disaster Management" manual has had wide distribution
to partners, governments and NGOs. Following Hurricane Mitch Tearfund
launched a new disaster preparedness and mitigation policy, and
committed itself to integrating DMP into all its disaster management
work. It also undertook a risk assessment project to identify
the 20 countries most at risk from both conflict and natural hazard
related disasters. This data is used to identify countries where
a greater focus on DMP is required.
2. ADVERSE EFFECTS
2.1. Extreme weather events:
Tearfund is very aware of the seriousness of
global climate change and the implications it has for sustainable
development. We are particularly concerned about the links between
global warming and extreme weather events. We acknowledge that
climate change is not necessarily responsible for all extreme
events, but recognise the connections between them. The links
between global warming and the severe flooding experienced by
Mozambique in 2000, for example, are documented in the 2001 Christie
and Hanlon report (which Tearfund helped to fund), Mozambique
and the Great Flood of 2000. We are deeply concerned about the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) predictions
that the global incidence and severity of floods and droughts
is likely to increase with intensified warming.
We have already observed a steadily rising number of storms, floods
and droughts in the countries our partners work in, and have witnessed
their effect on the poor in terms of loss of life and livelihoods.
Our regional teams and partners are frequently frustrated by the
way in which their on-going development work is affected by major
climate related disasters.
2.2 The effect of extreme events:
Climate related disasters have implications
for life, livelihoods, the environment, and infrastructure.
Following Hurricane Mitch which struck Central
America in 1998, Tearfund provided emergency support in the form
of grants to 21 partners located in Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador
and Costa Rica. Our partners informed us of the devastation caused
throughout Central America by floods and mudslides. The impact
of Mitch was particularly devastating to Honduras, with the loss
of thousands of lives, 70 per cent of the country's roads and
bridges destroyed, and the main pillar of the economythe
agricultural sectoralmost wiped out. Tearfund's partner
MOPAWI, which has been working in the Mosquitia region of Honduras
since 1985, wrote the following assessment following the disaster:
"Amongst the damages reported to date,
the most prevalent include environmental damage: contamination
of rivers, lagoons and drinking water, fallen trees along riverbanks
caused by erosion, natural barriers destroyed, change of the river's
natural course, and damage to local fauna. Significant damage
has also been noted to local agricultural production: the majority
of the crops were destroyed, including rice, beans, corn, plantains
and bananas, root crops, cacao and citrus fruit. Damage to housing
and local infrastructure includes damaged and destroyed homes,
health centres, schools, roads, small bridges and boats".
Tearfund partner Project Global Village (PAG)
"The force and volume of water destroyed
mini and major watersheds; community water supplies were severely
damaged or completely destroyed".
A similar situation to that of Honduras was
reported by Tearfund partner HEED in Bangladesh after the severe
flooding there in 1998. HEED made the following observations:
"The exceptional floods have left many
thousands of families displaced from their homes and without access
to basic essentials for survival. The rapid rise of the flood
waters has caused much damage in housing, food stocks, water supplies,
growing crops, livestock and small businesses.
After the flood, it is not possible for rural
agricultural workers to find any employment and their families
will suffer extreme hardship having lost much, if not all, their
basic supplies . . . In addition many people have lost their means
of generating income which further restricts their recovery and
causes breakdown in the local economy."
We are very concerned about these adverse effects
of climate related disasters. We are particularly concerned about
loss of livelihoods. We acknowledge the seriousness of loss of
life through sudden death, but also recognise the slow death that
loss of livelihoods causes by sending the poor even deeper into
poverty and vulnerability. Extreme weather events, through damaging
and destroying livelihoods (whether directly or indirectly through
creating unemployment), can set back development by decades. Unless
sufficient attention is paid to the impact of climate related
disasters on livelihoods (and to economic recovery as a disaster
response component) development will not be sustainable.
Greater attention must be paid by
governments, International Financial Institutions, corporations
and businesses to the links between climate change and extreme
Greater attention must be paid by
donor governments to the implications that climate related disasters
have for development, particularly loss of livelihoods. The on-going
threat of hydrological extremes must be taken into account in
all development initiatives with vulnerable countries.
DFID should fulfil its promise to,
as it stated in chapter five, section G of Achieving Sustainability:
poverty elimination and the environment, "look at the effects
of environmental disasters on long-term development plans".
Tearfund are aware that climate change and climate
related disasters have implications for human health. We are concerned
about the predicted direct impact of climate change on health
as documented by the IPCC, which includes a rise in heat and cold
related illnesses and deaths and an increase in infectious and
parasitic diseases such as cholera, malaria, dengue, and Chagas
We have witnessed the indirect impact of climate change on health
through responding to floods in Central America. Following Hurricane
Mitch, our partner MOPAWI in Honduras informed us:
"With respect to water and sanitation,
the flooding has contaminated most wells, and sources of water
are not available or insufficient, resulting in extremely poor
sanitary conditions . . ." "An alarming incidence of
illnesses such as diarrhoea, dysentery, skin diseases, conjunctivitis,
and respiratory infections has been reported in the Mosquitia
and . . . epidemics of malaria, cholera and Chagas disease have
been reported in other regions of Honduras".
With global warming and climate related
disasters predicted to increase, we recommend that further research
into the health implications of climate change is undertaken.
Support to developing countries'
health sectors should include assistance to plan for the health
implications of climate change.
3. THE EXTENT
There is statistical evidence that the poor
are more susceptible to the effects of climate change in the form
of extreme weather events.
We perceive this fact to be the result of the link between poverty
and vulnerability: poor communities are frequently forced to live
on marginal land which is vulnerable to extreme weather events
and where they lack the infrastructure to deal with them. Our
partners in Central America responding to Hurricane Mitch observed
the disparity between the ability of the poor and the rich to
protect themselves from the flooding and mudslides that accompanied
the hurricane. They reported that the poor were most seriously
affected as they were living in high-risk areas such as hill slopes
and river banks: many families living in these areas lost both
homes and sources of income. The network of Honduran Civil Society
Organisations INTERFOROS, with which Tearfund partners are linked,
made the following statement in reference to Honduran communities
living in areas exposed to extreme weather events:
". . . the hazardous situation of the people
living in those areas is obvious, they usually lack the resources
and means to flee from their condition of marginality and risk.
The communities where several social organisations have sustained
a local development strategy have somehow escaped from this critical
The poor were also disadvantaged through not
being adequately forewarned of the hurricane, and having no means
of escape. Communities living in rural areas such as La Mosquitia
received little or no information and had no means of evacuation.
Tearfund personnel living in this area at the time wrote:
"Communications with the outside world
are very poor, there exists no emergency procedures and the local
Miskito people have no organised system to deal with such situations.
It is not the place to be in the event of a hurricane".
These statements reveal the link between low
human development and vulnerability. Tearfund partner KOINONIA,
based in Bangladesh, also observe this link. Following the floods
of 1998 KOINONIA undertook a programme of emergency aid in rural
areas. They informed us that the poor were most severely affected
by this disaster, particularly in the Gopalgani district where
flooding had prevented them from cultivating the land they depended
"The huge area of submerged low land (in
the Gopalgani district) is surrounded by four unions namely Kajalia,
Kalabari, Kushala and Radhaganj. The locality is mainly inhabited
by the most disadvantaged and underprivileged farming and fishermen
community, day labours, poor landless and share cropper, marginal
and small farmers. The mainstay of the local people is agricultural
work. But for want of a proper drainage system agricultural work
cannot be carried out by the poor rural farmers successfully.
The fierce flood of the last year has destroyed even the last
remaining grains of crops of some of the higher grounds".
In view of the link between low human development
and vulnerability, it is of great concern to us that developing
country governments frequently do not have the resources or capacity
to look beyond the reconstruction stage after a disaster has occurred
to reduce the vulnerability of the poor through economic development
or even disaster preparedness. An associate of Tearfund based
in Honduras made the following observation with reference to the
capacity of the Honduran government following Hurricane Mitch:
"The Central government . . . has not had
sufficient capacity to attend, in a reasonable manner, the demands
of the organisations and citizens that have come before it looking
for support to overcome their problems provoked by Mitch".
"The Master Plan for National Reconstruction
and Transformation (PMRTN) has not become a concerted plan . .
. it is lacking the legal, material and human resources needed
to surpass its merely physical perspective of reconstruction .
Where a government cannot respond to its citizens'
needs through adequate rehabilitation and development, the poor
remain poor and vulnerable. When disaster strikes and destroys
livelihoods, inequality of socio-economic conditions is aggravated
even further. Thus disasters both expose and widen the gap between
rich and poor.
If International Development Targets
are to be met, disaster preparedness and mitigation must be awarded
a much higher priority in overseas aid programmes, especially
for the most vulnerable regions and countries.
DMP needs to gain a higher political
We urge the British Government to
ensure that the issue of DMP is raised and discussed at the World
Summit on Sustainable Development in August 2002.
4. HOW THE
Major hurricanes and floods attract instant
media interest and rapid humanitarian response, but it is not
enough to support immediate crises through relief activities without
enabling communities to prepare for and mitigate against the effects
of future disasters. Thousands of lives could be saved each year
in developing countries if more emphasis was placed by governments
on preparing vulnerable communities for extreme weather events.
A large range of preparedness and mitigation measures are possible,
many of them relatively cheap and simple to implement. They cover
areas such as building location and construction, emergency shelters,
food production and storage systems, reforestation and the establishment
of early warning systems and evacuation routes. Where communities
have undertaken preparedness and mitigation measures, the effect
of the disaster has often been significantly reduced.
An estimated 8-10 million people live within
the high risk coastal areas of Bangladesh. A Tearfund consultant
undertook an evaluation of cyclone shelters there in July 2000
and made the following general observation on the effectiveness
In 1970 a cyclone with a storm surge of 25-30
ft high hit the coast of the Bay of Bengal. The storm surge raced
inland at a speed of 150 mph, killing over 300,000 people. Since
this disaster, various plans to mitigate the effects of cyclones
in high risk areas by erecting cyclone shelters have proved effective
in reducing loss of life. The cyclone of 1991 was of similar size
to that of 1970, yet loss of life, partly on account of these
shelters, was reduced to 140,000. Local inhabitants on the coastline
south of Chittagong pointed out that while over 21,000 people
had lost their lives locally, those who made it to the multi-purpose
cyclone shelter were all saved.
Another of Tearfund's partners NEICORD, based
in North East India, has undertaken disaster preparedness and
mitigation activities in the Brahmaputra Valley. Rainfall in the
region is heavy and floods are frequent. Among its activities
NEICORD has promoted and observed the effectiveness of early rice
growing as a food security measure for times of flood. The system
is being adopted by communities in the region living near NEICORD's
project sites which have recognised its benefits.
Recognising that disaster preparedness and mitigation
saves lives, Tearfund and its partner agencies around the world
have identified DMP as an indispensable tool to tackle suffering
5. FUNDING ADAPTATION
Tearfund is concerned about the fact that disaster
mitigation and preparedness has traditionally been a backwater
of international funding policy, with DMP being a low priority
in overseas development assistance. Moreover, DMP remains a low
priority in domestic disaster management strategies; where developing
country governments have funded relief and reconstruction programmes,
funding has often not stretched to DMP programmes. Through discussions
held by Tearfund with representatives of the governments o f Nicaragua
and Honduras in September 2001, it became clear that DMP was low
on the list of priorities for disaster management spending.
We have not only observed that DMP proves effective
in reducing loss of life and livelihoods, but we also believe
that the cost of investing in DMP compared with the costs incurred
by relief and reconstruction post-disasters is very low. The World
Bank and the US Geological Survey have calculated that economic
losses worldwide from natural disasters could be reduced by 280
billion US dollars by investing around a seventh of that sum in
disaster preparedness (International Federation of Red Cross and
Red Crescent Societies World Disasters Report 2001).
The UK government should increase
its official development assistance to 0.7 per cent of GNP within
a specified period.
Donor governments and NGOs must allocate
more resources for assisting disaster prone countries develop
DMP strategies and implement community DMP programmes.
6. THE PRESENCE
The ability of developing countries to cope
with the effects of climate change in the form of climate related
disasters is frequently reduced by their lack of national and
local strategies for disaster mitigation and preparedness.
Tearfund held discussions in September 2001
with partner organisations working on community DMP in Nicaragua;
they revealed that DMP is a low priority on the national governmental
agenda. Many of our partners and associates expressed concern
over their government's failure to adequately address the need
to engage in DMP, including its failure to implement its own disaster
management law which was introduced in March 2000. A recent survey
conducted by the NGO "Civil Co-ordination for Emergency and
Reconstruction" (CCER) revealed that 83 per cent of high-risk
communities in Nicaragua still feel unprepared for disasters.
A similar situation is repeated in Honduras.
An umbrella association of NGOs based there informed us that the
national government's focus is on disaster reconstruction rather
than preparedness and mitigation and its reconstruction plans
tend to ignore issues of vulnerability. The association have been
lobbying the Honduran government for the implementation of its
DMP law, but have yet to see success. Several of Tearfund's partners
in Honduras are involved in a disaster mitigation network "La
Red de Mitigacion". A representative of the network informed
us that Honduras suffers from a lack of environmental and disaster
In both Nicaragua and Honduras Tearfund were
informed by partners that where the governments do engage with
DMP it is generally on the municipal level, and it is on this
level that co-operation and co-ordination between government,
NGOs and civil society groups tends to happen (on a limited basis).
Our partners observed that local government frequently has more
capacity to respond to disasters than central government, being
more accessible and accountable to citizens, more knowledgeable
of their needs, and better placed to fulfil them. However, all
of our partners in Nicaragua and Honduras informed us that while
local level government has a higher capacity to engage in DMP,
it is severely restrained by a lack of funding.
Tearfund's consultant in Haiti informed us that
Haiti regularly and frequently suffers the effects of extreme
weather events such as hurricanes and droughts. While the Haitian
government responds to these events with (limited) relief interventions,
it has no policy or budget for preparedness and mitigation programmes.
National preparedness for hurricanes and floods is non-existent:
there is no hurricane warning system, and no procedures for evacuation.
There is a lack of general knowledge about disaster preparedness,
with nothing established in the education system to inform children.
The average citizen will not be aware of an imminent hurricane
or flood and will not know what to do when it strikes. In the
consultant's own words, "when it (disaster) happens, it happens.
Hurricanes come: people die".
It became apparent through our discussions with
partners and their associates in Central America that lack of
emphasis on DMP extends beyond national boundaries. Where Central
American countries have received external assistance post Mitch,
this has frequently ignored issues of vulnerability. A long-established
association of civil society organisations in Central America
made the following statement:
"Most of the external co-operation, which
has increased since Mitch, has been frequently invested in works
of physical reconstruction and assistance programs with dubious
efficacy and sustainability". . . "The vulnerability
of the geographical regions more affected by Mitch or exposed
to destructive natural phenomena still persists".
Donor governments should place a
greater emphasis on building the capacity of governments and communities
in disaster prone countries to prepare for and respond to storms,
floods and droughts. We urge DFID to implement its priority of
building developing country capacity to prepare for disasters
(chapter five, section 5.15 of Achieving Sustainability: poverty
elimination and the environment).
There should be a particular focus
on providing adequate resources for local government to implement
and maintain local level DMP plans within a coherent national
A participatory approach to long-term
flood and drought management in developing countries should be
encouraged, in which local communities, NGOs, local and central
government communicate and collaborate together.
Issues of vulnerability to future
disasters must be considered in all external post-disaster assistance.
7. THE EXTENT
Through recent consultations with Tearfund partners
working in disaster preparedness and mitigation in Nicaragua and
Honduras, it became apparent that DMP is not given sufficient
focus in national Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). (The
World Bank/IMF require low-income countries to produce a PRSP
in order to achieve a link between debt relief and poverty reduction).
We were informed by our associate CCER (Civil
Co-ordination for Emergency and Reconstruction), that DMP was
not included in Nicaragua's PRSP. This information was confirmed
by the Humboldt Centre (Centre of Development and Environment
in Nicaragua). We also consulted the executive secretary of the
government department responsible for disasters ("National
System for Prevention, Mitigation and Attention to Disasters")
who agreed that the country's PRSP lacked attention to DMP. He
also observed a need for a general increase in prevention awareness
We consulted the association of NGOs ASONOG
with which Tearfund partners are involved and which works closely
with the national government department for disasters (COPECO).
ASONOG informed us that the PRSP for Honduras lacked sufficient
attention to the links between poverty and the environment, and
excluded disaster preparedness and mitigation. Tearfund partner
PAG (Project Global Village) which educates communities in disaster
preparedness and mitigation confirmed the lack of DMP within the
All of Tearfund's partners collaborating with
the governments of Honduras and Nicaragua recognise the importance
of the inclusion of DMP within PRSPs. Our partners are concerned
that without sufficient attention to the design and implementation
of a national disaster preparedness strategy, PRSPs will not be
Finally, the question of national government
capacity to implement PRSPs once formulated was also raised. The
following observation was made by ASONOG:
"It seems that even for government units
and programmes there is not a clear understanding on how the PRSP
and the reduction of vulnerability is going to be implemented".
Donor governments must place a higher
priority on raising developing country awareness of the need to
address issues of vulnerability in any poverty reduction strategy.
Tearfund's Disaster Response Team have undertaken
a study to identify the countries most at risk from conflict and
natural hazard related disasters. The list of 20 countries most
at risk from natural hazard related disasters has been produced
according to annual average number of people killed and affected
by such disasters between 1990 and 1998, size of population and
levels of social vulnerability. Please see the attachment that
accompanies this paper for the results of the study (Annex
The following statistics were used to produce
the "top 20" countries:
ANNUAL AVERAGE KILLED BY NATURAL HAZARDS
ANNUAL AVERAGE AFFECTED BY NATURAL HAZARDS 1990-98
ANNUAL AVERAGE KILLED BY NATURAL HAZARDS AS PERCENTAGE
||Annual Av Killed 1990-98
||Killed as % Population
|Papua New Guinea||4,705,000
ANNUAL AVERAGE AFFECTED BY NATURAL HAZARDS AS PERCENTAGE
||Annual Av Affected 1990-98
||Affected as % Population
|Papua New Guinea||4,705,000
The following country specific observations were made in
a consultancy report drawn up for Tearfund's Asia team:
Bangladesh has the highest average numbers killed by climate
related disasters in the world. Increasing river floods and land
erosion are displacing millions a year, and there is a future
severe threat to 11 of 130 million living in coastal areas as
a result of sea-level rise. Government and agencies are experienced
in disaster preparedness and response but less so in mitigation.
India has the second highest number of people killed and
affected by environmental disasters in the world. It is under
high threat of cyclones, floods and increasing El Nino related
droughts and sea-level rise. The national government presently
lacks the capacity and resources for disaster response, preparedness
The Philippines is the most disaster prone country in the
world, with a very high frequency of cyclones and floods, an increasing
frequency of El Nino related drought, and prone to earthquakes
and volcanoes. The government is well organised and prepared for
disaster response but less so for disaster mitigation.
Tearfund recommends that aid interventions and capacity building
programmes are focused on those countries where frequency and
severity of disasters is highest and national coping capacity
Tearfund is a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee. Back
Report of IPCC Working Group 2, "Climate Change 2001: Impacts,
Adaptation, and Vulnerability". Back
IPCC report, "The Regional Impacts of Climate Change"
Chapter 6: Latin America. Back
According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies "World Disasters Report 2001", on
average 22.5 people die per reported disaster in highly developed
nations, 145 die per disaster in nations of medium human development,
and each disaster in countries of low human development claims
an average of 1,052 people. Back