As 6000 experts convene in Sendai, week of March 14 – 18, 2015 to finalize text for a post-2015 international framework for disaster risk reduction at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, the Survey findings hope to inform the ongoing debate and framing of key issues.
The Survey was initiated in response to the absence of systematic public surveys on disaster risk reduction (such as the ‘My World 2015’ Survey which was initiated to inform the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals).
The Survey is cognizant of global and regional efforts such as the ISDR’s ‘Road to Sendai’ and GNDR’s ‘Reality Check from the Frontline’ campaigns. However, it also recognizes that the value of open public engagement in the process of framing key issues for a post-2015 disaster risk reduction framework has only been belatedly acknowledged.
The Survey was launched via an online tool with a global reach and respondents were asked 15 questions (of which 10 gauge respondents’ general understanding and expectations of international disaster risk reduction efforts, and 5 questions profile respondents based on demographic and other information).
Listed below, are the Surveys’ key findings (collated as of March 13, 2015) based on a total of 205 responses:
1. At least half the respondents (47.03%) think a disaster is somewhat likely to affect their community/ city in the next year. However, more people think it not likely (31.68%), than very likely (21.29%).
2. The majority of people (69.76%) think that disasters occur due to both nature’s fury and human error in planning and building. An equal number of respondents think that each factor is solely responsible (13.17%, 13.17% respectively). A small number (3.90%) cite additional and specific causes such as climate change and global warming.
3. The majority of respondents (83.74%) think that disasters have increased in frequency, complexity and impact over the last 10 years, worldwide.
4. The majority of respondents locate responsibility for ensuring people’s safety from disasters with the national government (42.79%) and local government and agencies (40.30%). A large number cite oneself as being solely responsible (38.81%). More than a third (38.31%) cite all stakeholders listed - self, national government, local government and agencies, civil society organizations/ NGOs/ Volunteer groups, small businesses/ private sector, religious community/ place of worship, United Nations and other international agencies as responsible for ensuring safety from disasters. About 16.92% cite the United Nations and other international agencies as being responsible, followed by civil society organizations/ NGOs/ volunteer groups (13.43%), small businesses/ private sector (2.99%) and religious community/ place of worship (1.49%). Some respondents also cited others – such as community at large/ community members, schools and universities as bearing responsibility.
5. Most people think some progress has been made in preparing to deal with disaster impacts over the last 10 years, but critical gaps and challenges remain (80.30%). Marginally more people think that we are worse prepared relative to the new risks we face (10.84%) compared to those who think great progress has been made on many fronts (8.87%).
6. An overwhelming majority of respondents did not know about the HFA (78.79%).
7. An overwhelming majority of respondents were not aware that a post-2015 international framework for disaster risk reduction is being currently drafted for adoption at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, March 2015 (82.53%).
8. A majority of respondents stated that the five proposed global targets reasonably reflect their aspirations for a safer world (83.95%). However, respondents also suggested additional targets and measures to focus on:
a. Under Target ii (reduce the number of disaster affected people):
- Introduce concrete targets to assess timely and efficient response recovery and rehabilitation.
- Introduce targets that encourage general public awareness about disaster risks so that the causes, processes and outcomes of disaster risk are publicly known and easily understood.
- Make disasters quantifiable and policy evidence based.
- Conduct more widespread public awareness and training on disaster risk management actions.
- Ensure risk management systems are made participatory to allow planning and implementation with and by the most vulnerable.
b. Under Target iii (reduce disaster economic losses):
- Increase local resources/spending pools for disaster risk management.
- Introduce a public/ private funded corpus for disasters.
- Allocate x percent of national and local budgets towards disaster risk management.
c. Under Target iv (reduce damage to health and educational facilities):
- Include targets to reduce damage to nuclear facilities, dams, public transportation and other major public utilities.
- Increase participation of civil society organizations and at-risk communities.
d. Under Target v (number of countries with national and local strategies):
- Ensure that broader development policy and targets are mandated to reflect disaster risk management strategies and actions.
e. Introduce some positive indicators of resilience capacities so that disaster risk management is not just marked by a reduction in loss and damage but also by the presence of certain enabling factors.
f. Reduce human contribution to green house emissions, global warming, illegal mining, etc.
g. Reduce the time line for achieving targets to 2025. It should remain a 10-year plan.
h. Invest in institutional, international, regional, national and local accountability and transparency measures for tracking funding and progress in disaster risk reduction.
9. Well over half the respondents (60%) think it important to prioritize all the four proposed HFA2 areas – i.e. Improved knowledge and understanding of disaster risks (Priority 1); Strengthened governance for disaster risk management (Priority 2); Investments in social, cultural, economic and environmental measures to save lives and prevent and reduce major disaster losses (Priority 3); Enhance preparedness for effective response and knowledge of how to build back better (Priority 4). An equal number of respondents think it important for their respective governments to focus on priority 4 (24.38%), a focus on Priority 3 (24.38%), followed by a focus on Priority 1 (21.88%) and Priority 2 (14.37%).
10. Almost half of the respondents (46.88%) think they are most likely to contribute to the successful implementation of the post-2015 international framework for disaster risk reduction by making family, friends and neighbors more aware of their risk from disasters; followed by enhancing their own skills in disaster preparedness and response by signing up for trainings and participate in drills (36.88%); contribute to local planning processes, city council meetings and appropriately influence decisions that affect you/ your community (16.88%), volunteer with a local community based organization/ NGO in creating awareness and local projects aimed at creating community resilience (15.63%).
1. The most number of responses came from the United States of America, India, Pakistan, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Philippines. Other country representation includes Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Brazil, Singapore, Sweden and Japan.
2. Most respondents are currently employed in business, management, computer, architecture and engineering, community and social service, education and training related occupations.
3. Most respondents are 30-39 years old (34.62%), followed by 21-29 years (22.44%), 40-49 years (19.23%) and 50-59 years (13.46%).
4. Most respondents are male (73.08%).
The Survey has two main limitations: timing (it was conceptualized and publicized late October 2014, only days before the formal negotiation process for the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction was to begin) and limited reach (response numbers are small and at best present a random sample of perspectives from around the world).
Through 2015, the disaster diary project hopes to collaborate with volunteer and civil society groups to launch follow up public surveys’ on better understanding citizen perspectives on disaster risk and enabling an online system of public feedback and monitoring of disaster risk reduction efforts worldwide.
For any clarifications or interest in collaboration, please write to Shefali J Lakhina at: firstname.lastname@example.org
 Targets expressed in terms of x percentage (as a function of number of hazardous events)