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World Disaster Risk Reduction Day in Cordaid

Story Food and income

Disasters impact low- and middle-income countries disproportionately, particularly in terms of mortality, injuries, displacement and homelessness, economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure. Investments in disaster risk contribute greatly to efforts towards achieving sustainable development goals. 

Meet Illile Bekele, our Disaster Risk Management (DRR) programme officer. Illile has been working for ICCO, part of Cordaid since 2018. In light of the international disaster risk day, she shares her story about this intervention area. “The relevance of disaster risk reduction is very significant. In a country like Ethiopia, where problems like drought and floods persist, even more so. I worked as Protection and Emergency officer before I joined this organisation, even then the issue of disaster risk and resilience was always in my mind.

If you carefully peruse the disaster management strategy of the country, you will realise it has become more focused on resilience building. It is true that my work encompasses emergency response and livelihood recovery, but resilience building, the opportunity for communities to build disaster resilient environments, is what my work is mainly focused on.  In the last few years, I have worked in desert locust projects and COVID-19 response projects. Currently my project specifically focuses on youth resilience building for employment.

Covid-19 has disrupted many things in the areas where implement our project. When the pandemic restricted movement, it created disruption in the economic flow of these communities. The initial emergency issue for the project in the area was drought. Covid added to that and made the community vulnerable to unexpected risk.

“Covid-19 has disrupted many things in the areas where we implement our project including restriction of movement and economic flow of communities.

Through the project we have promoted entrepreneurship, gave support for the youth to create job opportunities and business ideas for themselves and we enhanced their ability to utilize surrounding inputs, like river water, to increase their productivity.

The change I saw since the beginning of the project is incredible. The thing I am most proud of about the project is the number of women we were able to impact. Most women we supported were able to help themselves and their families. Before the project, they were in dire situations, waiting for work, waiting for rain to feed their families. DRR has helped them stand on their feet. We also supported farmers use the river water instead of waiting for rain. Seeing their gratitude and happiness was very satisfying.

Developing countries like ours suffer the most from these unfortunate events due to lack of coping mechanisms, well-developed and resilient infrastructure and sustainable environmental solutions. Therefore, international cooperation for developing countries through capacity building is essential to boost disaster resilience in the face of extreme weather events and other natural and man-made hazards and disasters.”