Integrating protection into disaster risk preparedness in the Dominican Republic

Andrea Verdeja
2016 unpublished
Addressing protection as a key element of community-based disaster risk reduction and preparedness efforts is essential to safeguarding human rights in disaster and emergency settings. Since the early 2000s, the protection sector has made great strides in identifying and responding to risks affecting local populations during emergencies, whether in conflict situations or disaster response. While a vast wealth of knowledge, experiences and literature has been generated over recent years around
more » ... otection in these contexts, less attention has been given to thinking about protection through the lens of disaster risk preparedness. That is, in disaster settings, protection measures and activities are normally implemented during the response phase but are not as often meaningfully considered as an integral part of disaster risk reduction and prevention efforts. In many countries, during or immediately after a disaster, state response actors are frequently unable to reach affected populations for significant periods of time, or may lack the capacity or resources to assist the population to the full extent needed. As a result, during any given disaster it is communities themselves, and not necessarily state duty-bearers, who are most likely to be the first responders. In this sense, communities play a crucial role in their own safekeeping and, with the right tools, can be effectively involved in implementing protection measures to prevent and/or respond to situations of harm or abuse that often take place in emergency settings. It is within this context that a consortium 1 of organisations comprising Oxfam, Plan International and Habitat for Humanity has sought to work at the community level in the Dominican Republic with riverside urban poor communities-barrios-that are at high risk of disaster-induced displacement. On a periodic basis, the Dominican Republic suffers major climate-related events that, when combined with the underlying conditions of extreme inequality and widespread impoverishment, result all too often in disaster. Among the most significant recent examples are Hurricane George in 1998, which left over 85,000 internally displaced and 350 dead; the Jimaní flash flooding in 2004, which erased several communities from the map and left over 600 dead and around 1,000 families displaced; and, in 2007, tropical Training in disaster risk reduction and management, San Cristóbal.