The U.S. Forest Service International Programs, through USAID’s Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment, is working in Central Africa to train communities on improved fire management. Uncontrolled fires pose a huge threat to Central African forests and can cause large releases of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere when burned, further exacerbating the effects of climate change. However, fire within forest-savannah mosaic landscapes in the Congo Basin can be both a management tool as well as a threat. If used in a sustainable manner, fire can help maintain pastureland and protect forests, farms, plantations, and villages. | Credit: Olivia Freeman

Editor’s Pick: Disaster Preparedness Through Climate Adaptation -- Tools and Resources on Climatelinks

By Isabela Barriga

Climate adaptation and disaster risk management (DRM) are connected by the common goal of reducing the impacts of disasters, minimizing the consequences of extreme events, and increasing resilience. Valuable knowledge sharing and partnership opportunities exist for those willing to bridge climate adaptation and DRM.

Climate change can increase the risk of disaster by increasing hydrometeorological hazards -- such as storms, flooding or drought -- that result in damage or loss of life. At the same time, climate impacts can increase the vulnerability of communities to natural hazards by reducing their baseline resilience as a result of climate-induced changes, such as ecosystem degradation, reductions in water and food availability. Climate change thus adds another layer of stress to communities’ abilities to cope with the existing levels of weather hazards.

USAID has been pioneering disaster risk reduction (DRR) approaches and has been developing local, national and regional disaster response capacities to tackle natural hazards. USAID and the broader d disaster preparedness community is working towards implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction with the goal of preventing future and reducing existing disaster risks through integrated measures across sectors such as economic, health, environmental, and more. The Sendai Framework manages disaster risks by building resilience to prevent and reduce hazard exposure and vulnerability to disaster. This approach increases preparedness for response and recovery.

The Sendai framework contains four priorities for action across sectors at the local, state, national, regional, and global levels to reach the following goals:

  1.  Understanding disaster risk,
  2. Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage the risk,
  3. Investing in DRR for resilience, and
  4. Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Disaster risk reduction saves lives, not just by strengthening the response, but even improving preparations before a disaster strikes. For example, early warning systems reduce vulnerabilities and exposure to hydrometeorological events by providing timely and reliable information to alert leaders and the public of dangerous weather events. Early warning systems can be improved by incorporation of climate data and trends.

When it comes to climate-related disasters, climate risk management (CRM) helps disaster risk management and other stakeholders assess, address and adapt to direct and indirect climate impacts on disaster risk reduction efforts. It can help identify ways to address risk such as watershed-based natural resource management to mitigate flood risk, improve disaster preparedness, and help communities be more self-reliant.

On March 22nd, World Water Day 2020 explored how water and climate change are inextricably linked, as demonstrated by changing patterns of rainfall and drought. Extreme weather events are making water more scarce, more unpredictable, more polluted or all of the above. Climate, weather, and water-related disasters -- such as cyclones, droughts, and floods -- account for the largest number of natural disasters worldwide.

Throughout March, Climatelinks focused on disaster preparedness through climate adaptation. A selection of ongoing activities, as well as current blogs, resources, and tools, can be found below.


Saving Mangroves and Protecting People on Sierra Leone’s Coast shares a mangrove restoration initiative from the USAID-funded West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change that helps Sierra Leonean coastal communities protect against storm surges, coastal erosion and flooding, and develop resilience.

Equipping Youth with Knowledge and Capacity to Better Manage Climate Risk captures how USAID, through its Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience (APIK) Project, empowers youth through climate and disaster education activities in the regions of East Java, Southeast Sulawesi, and Maluku.

Reflections on Disaster Events on the One-Year Anniversary of Cyclone Idai shares lessons from Cyclone Idai in Southern Africa in 2019, including improvements for risk-informed infrastructure and development that properly accounts for intensifying flood events.


Guide to Education In Natural Disasters: How USAID Supports Education in Crises highlights the overarching principles, standards, interventions, and accompanying tools applicable to providing educational assistance in response to natural disasters, and suggests how USAID can effectively contribute.

Adaptation Community Meeting: USAID's Approach to Developing and Managing Shock Responsive Programming and Adaptive Mechanisms examined USAID’s guidance for shock responsive programming and outlined methods for proactively designing adaptive and shock responsive activities. This included examples from Ethiopia and the Sahel.

Power System and Municipal Resilience in the Dominican Republic: Learning in Real-Time Following Hurricanes Irma and Maria describes how the Post-Event Assessment of Resilience was applied in the municipality of Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic in September 2017, as hurricanes Irma and Maria were forecast to make landfall, and the valuable findings of the assessment.


Climate Risk Screening and Management Tools (also available in Spanish) are designed to assist with climate risk screening and management in strategy, project, and activity design. With these tools, users can assess and address climate risk, improving the effectiveness and sustainability of development interventions. Sector-specific annexes (including the Disaster Readiness Annex) provide illustrative questions and examples designed to help users think through risks, opportunities, and CRM options.

Strategic Objective
Adaptation, Climate Risk Management, Disaster Risk Management, Economic Growth, Education, Health, Partnership, Resilience, Water and Sanitation, Weather

Isabela Barriga

Isabela es gerente de redes sociales y coordinadora de contenido para Climatelinks a través del proyecto SEEK de USAID. Ella ayuda con la gestión de la información, la investigación y la redacción de blogs. Anteriormente, Isabela brindó apoyo de comunicación y gestión de contenido a organizaciones intergubernamentales, asociaciones público-privadas y misiones diplomáticas, incluidas las Naciones Unidas, GAVI (actualmente, la Alianza de Vacunas) y la Embajada de Ecuador. Isabela tiene un B.S. en Salud Pública y estudios completos en Desarrollo Internacional y Gestión de Conflictos (Universidad de Maryland, College Park).

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