Earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts and heavy rainfall: Global warming is causing a sharp increase in natural disasters and extreme weather events. People in developing and emerging countries are particularly affected by the impacts – but they are often left unprotected. However, the impact of these natural events can be mitigated. The better prepared a country is for impending natural disasters, the more people survive and the less humanitarian aid has to be provided afterwards.
AWO International has been active in disaster prevention since 2014. The measures of disaster prevention are very versatile and always individually adapted to the conditions of the country. In countries where flooding is frequent for example, planting mangroves along the coasts is helpful. These trees then serve as a protective wall against approaching water masses and rising sea levels. People can be better protected from earthquakes if they receive special risk training and learn how to build their houses to be earthquake-proof. In regions struggling with severe droughts, grain and water storage facilities help to protect people from famine. Above all, constructive networking is crucial to the success of our projects, as is the training of volunteers who can then disseminate the knowledge they have learned to the community in the long term.
Felix Neuhaus, Coordinator Humanitarian Aid at AWO International, is an expert in disaster risk reduction and focuses on volunteering and cooperation. In an interview with Aktion Deutschland Hilft, he is talking about how disaster preparedness works and why networking is important.
Four floating emergency shelters - equipped with electricity and a water treatment plant - protect people from recurring floods in the monsoon season (Photo: AWO International/Phillipines)
Four floating gardens were also built, connected to the emergency shelters (Photo: AWO International/Phillipines)
Community members are always involved so that they can share their knowledge in a sustainable way (Photo: AWO International/Phillipines)
People with disabilities are particularly vulnerable during extreme natural events. That is why we are especially committed to inclusive disaster risk reduction (Photo: AWO International/Guatemala)
For better orientation, we are creating evacuation plans in public places (Photo: AWO International/Guatemala)
In an emergency, things have to go fast: In the project communities we put up evacuation arrows (Photo: AWO International/Guatemala)
A traffic light system as an early warning system is warning students of earthquakes (Photo: AWO International/Guatemala)
Preparation is the best protection: Our participants receive an emergency rucksack with water, food and hygiene articles. (Photo: AWO International/Guatemala)
In India, smallholder farmers suffer from extreme droughts that destroy their fields and livelihoods. (Photo: AWO International/India)
Long dry periods lead to crop failures and bottlenecks in the drinking water supply. Women and girls carry the water from far away into the settlements. (Photo: AWO International/India)
Children are also involved in the projects: through comics they playfully learn how to behave in the event of earthquakes (Photo: AWO International/Indonesia)
Genu Musahar is now a member of a disaster preparedness committee: "I have learned how to better protect myself and my children from the flood and how to provide first aid in an emergency" (Photo: AWO International/India)
To protect against local fires, we install extinguishing stations with sand in public places (Photo: AWO International/India)
- We build disaster preparedness groups that assess risks and develop emergency plans
- We are expanding our networking activities and bringing state actors together with civil society actors and involving local media so that acceptance in society is increased
- We promote social structures in the communities and strengthen them sustainably in order to train multipliers
- We implement early warning systems in endangered project regions so people are getting warned of tsunamis, earthquakes or hurricanes
- We provide those potentially at risk with emergency equipment, such as an emergency backpack
- We are developing inclusive emergency maps that depict households with people with disabilities so they can be evacuated quickly in the event of an emergency
- We train our participants in first aid and conduct regular trainings
- We build dams, distribute rescue rings and get boats to protect people from floods
- We set up emergency shelters to provide rapid protection in the event of a disaster
- We carry out hygiene measures and distribute mosquito nets, among other things, to protect against malaria, dengue fever, COVID-19 and diarrheal diseases, etc.