p>LONDON (AlertNet) - Most donor governments have grasped the importance of policies to reduce the risk of disasters, but few are giving enough aid to put them into practice, says a report from a UK-based aid research group.
Data analysed by Development Initiatives (DI) shows that the 23 richest countries and the European Union invested only 3.4 percent of their humanitarian spending in disaster prevention and preparedness in 2010, down from 4 percent in 2009, and well below an international goal of 10 percent. For 2006 to 2010, the figure was 2 percent.
Development aid is also failing to match international recommendations that at least 1 percent of official development assistance be spent on disaster risk reduction (DRR), reaching only 0.5 percent in the 2006-2010 period.
Only three of the donor governments in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development allocated more than 1 percent of their development spending to DRR in the 2006-2010 period, and eight spent less than 0.5 percent, as did the EU.
"The data suggests that governments are falling far short in terms of investing up front in order to save lives further down the line," said Dan Coppard, DI's director of research.
"The World Bank estimates that every dollar spent on risk reduction saves $7 in relief and repairs. A reassessment of spending priorities and a revised financing model which places greater emphasis upon the reduction of risk is essential," he added.
Since 2005, when 168 countries backed the Hyogo Framework for Action setting a blueprint for international efforts to reduce disaster vulnerability and risk, humanitarian funding for DRR has increased, rising from $59 million in 2006 to more than $350 million by 2010.
But only Japan and South Korea spent more than 10 percent of their humanitarian budgets on DRR in that period, while 10 donors - including the United States, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland - allocated less than 5 percent.
DRR activities include a wide range of measures – from putting in place early warning systems to improving infrastructure like drainage systems and embankments, building cyclone shelters, teaching people to swim, following construction guidelines on quake-resistance and providing insurance for small farmers. WHO'S RESPONSIBLE?
The DI report points to the difficulty of producing accurate figures on DRR spending, especially the portion that comes from development aid, due to problems with the way OECD donors code their projects. It recommends that the quality of donor reporting be improved if there is to be clarity about who is doing what.
The report also highlights uncertainty as to where DRR sits in the aid system, and whether the main responsibility should lie with humanitarian or development agencies.
Nonetheless, DRR is moving up the policy agenda of donor governments "at a time when the incidence of natural disasters related to climate change is on the up", it notes.
"Despite inconsistencies in reporting, it is widely acknowledged that there continues to be a pressing need to move DRR out of the realms of rhetoric and theory, and into more definite action supported by adequate funds," it says.
As well as being inadequate, DRR spending is unequal, the report's analysis shows. Of the $3.8 billion allocated to DRR from OECD donors' combined humanitarian and development spending between 2006 and 2010, 46 percent went to just four countries: Bangladesh, China, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Except for Bangladesh, DRR financing for these countries is heavily influenced by development aid loans from Japan for flood prevention and control programmes, according to the report.
Japan was the largest government donor of DRR funding in the last five years, reporting $1.4 billion – five times higher than the second-largest donor, the United States, it adds. You can download the report, Aid investments in disaster risk reduction, from the Development Initiatives website.