Mainstreaming Risk Management into Sustainable Human Development (Umbrella Programme)
China’s broad and diverse landscape is prone to a wide variety of natural disasters, from flooding to drought, cyclones, hailstorms and earthquakes. 70 per cent of the country’s cities and 50 per cent of its people live in areas considered to be at high risk from disasters. In recent years, climate change has increased both the frequency and intensity of extreme weather conditions and associated disasters. A heavy reliance on public infrastructure and low income levels mean that it is often the poor who are hardest hit when a natural disaster strikes. Beyond the cost of recovery, communities in rural areas are also left unprepared by a lack of access to basic online services, while their recovery efforts are undermined by food safety issues that compound the public health dimensions of disaster.
In China, conservative estimates put the number of people living in ecologically fragile regions and who are particularly vulnerable from natural disasters at around 9.5 million. Reaching out to these people will be crucial in reducing the devastation caused by disasters.
The complexities surrounding man’s impact on the environment and the rural location of many vulnerable communities led UNDP to establish an umbrella programme to promote risk management as an important part of every-day life. It is also intended to promote risk-conscious policy making as part of a long-term strategy towards enhancing UNDP’s contribution to China’s development planning.
The umbrella programme is specifically focused on working with communities to restore Wuliangsu Lake in Inner Mongolia, improve landslide early warning systems in Gansu, monitor climate change in arid regions in Xinjiang, and ensure agricultural safety in Shanxi.
Over the last three years much progress has been made in working with local communities and government officials. Examples include a website providing conservation workers and ordinary people with a platform for cooperation in the Wuliangsu Lake area. This was complimented by a high-level summit that focused on establishing a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to ecological restoration and risk management among representatives from over 100 public and private sector organisations. Training on capacity development helped local and provincial government authorities to better manage responsibilities and accountabilities for monitoring.
In other areas, field-based engineering instruments and equipment were purchased and installed (see image), helping to modify and improve outdated existing climate change monitoring networks. This has increased the ability for local communities to survey potential risks such as soil erosion and loss of fertility. This will be crucial in limiting the impact of occurrences such as landslides during floods and food shortages in times of drought. As new components continue to be added to this programme, it is hoped that together with government and business leaders, UNDP will continue to make important breakthroughs in policy and community engagement.
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