Financing Disaster Risk Reduction- A 20 year story of international aid
This moment, with so many policy debates
converging on 2015, represents a unique opportunity
to ensure that disaster risk reduction (DRR) becomes
a truly fundamental component of development and
poverty reduction. The international ﬁnancing of
DRR, representing the international community’s
support to national governments in their efforts to
protect development gains from disasters, is coming
under increasing scrutiny.
This report examines the record of the international
community to date, investigating the priorities in
ﬁnancing of DRR, and asking questions of both the
equity and adequacy of past efforts. Beyond this
it points to the future of a more rational, targeted
investment in risk reduction.
The evidence of the 20-year trends in international
DRR ﬁnancing is worrying:
● Financing has been highly volatile; only in the
past few years has there been relative stability.
● Although $13.5 billion of ﬁnancing has been
made available, it is a fraction of overall aid, less
than 40 cents in every $100.
● Disaster losses in developing nations amount
to $862 billion (a considerably under-estimate)
– equivalent in value to one-third of all
international development aid.
● There is a high concentration of funding in a
relatively small number of middle-income countries.
The top ten recipients received nearly $8 billion, the
remaining 144 just $5.6 billion combined.
● Financing is considerably fragmented. The 3,188
projects that cost less than $1.5 million represent
86.5% of the total number but only for 5.5% of
the volume of ﬁnancing. The administrative costs
of this have not been calculated.
● Many high-risk countries have received negligible
levels of ﬁnancing for DRR compared with
emergency response; 17 of the top 20 recipients
of response funding received less than 4% of their
disaster-related aid as DRR.
In addition, the priorities of international ﬁnancing
are, on the whole, not matched to either the needs or
capacity of recipient countries:
● There is some correlation between mortality risk
levels and volumes of ﬁnancing, but only at the
● Per capita ﬁnancing reveals signiﬁcant inequity.
Ecuador, the second highest recipient per capita,
received 19 times more than Afghanistan, 100
times more than Costa Rica and 600 times more
than the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
● Where the economy is at risk, volumes of
ﬁnancing tend to be high; where predominantly
populations are at risk, volumes are often low.
● Financing in drought-affected countries is very
weak. Niger, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Malawi
have seen 105 million people affected by drought,
but their combined DRR ﬁnancing has been $116.5
million, the same as Honduras alone.
● Financing does not take into account national
capacity and ﬁnances. Twelve of a group of 23
low-income countries each received less than
$10 million for DRR over 20 years. These
same countries received $5.6 billion in disaster
response, equivalent to $160,000 for every $1
There are positive areas to build upon, including
relatively stable ﬁnancing in the past few years; less
ﬁnancing of heavy infrastructure; a move away from
richer middle-income countries; and increasing DRR
ﬁnancing from climate adaptation. There should,
however, be considerable caution given the pressures
on traditional funding sources, and sustained concern
for the high numbers of low-income, sub-Saharan
African countries, often severely affected by drought,
that have seen minimal international DRR ﬁnancing.
The data available for tracking the ﬁnancing of DRR
is not as good as it should be. Both broad pictures
and individual country detail are needed, and to
obtain this data improvements are urgently required.
We also need to better understand national ﬁnancing
of DRR, and the interplay between national and
Despite issues with data, the evidence drawn together
in this report strongly suggests that the international
community must take stock of the way it provides
support to national governments. Questions need to
be asked about the role of international ﬁnancing,
the funding architecture and how funds from other
sources can be brought to bear. Above all else, there is
a need to move towards gauging the effectiveness of
what has been spent.
The future therefore is not just about more
money from donor governments, but also about
better ﬁnancing – more integrated and suitably
coordinated, and certainly better targeted.