Humanitarian action
The world is experiencing an unprecedented moment of fragility and uncertainty. Climate-fuelled disasters are more frequent and intense. Conflict in many parts of the world continues to go unresolved, eroding people’s coping capacities.

According to the Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) 2023, a record 339 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2023 – a significant increase from 274 million people a year ago, which was already the highest figure in decades.

The impact of disasters on vulnerable populations threatens to increase humanitarian needs and to reverse progress towards achieving the SDGs. Reducing risks and applying a preventive approach is essential to securing the relief expected from humanitarian interventions.  

UNDRR's work to scale up DRR in Humanitarian Action was launched in conjunction with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ prevention agenda, which called on the United Nations to transcend traditional divides to reduce long-term risks and vulnerability, prevent future crises, build more resilient societies and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It also contributes to wider efforts to enhance humanitarian-development-peace collaboration. Priority 4 of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction highlights the need to “link … relief, rehabilitation and development, [and to] use opportunities during the recovery phase to develop capacities that reduce disaster risk in the short, medium and long term.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, prevention is always better than cure. In an increasingly connected world, where risks cascade, critical opportunities are being missed to improve how we reduce risk in humanitarian contexts.

Humanitarian assistance costs are predicted to rise to $50bn per year by 2030, on the basis of current trends. 

Source: Too important to fail: addressing the humanitarian financing gap, 2016

Unless urgent climate and development action is taken, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America could be dealing with a combined total of over 140 million internal climate migrants by 2050.

Source: Groundswell: Preparing for internal climate migration, World Bank 2018.

274 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2022; that's 1 in every 29 people worldwide.

Source: UNOCHA, Global Humanitarian Overview 2022

UNDRR helps countries put in place the measures they need to reduce disaster risk and avoid creating new risks. UNDRR supports the scaling up of DRR in humanitarian action in the following ways:  

  • Convening the multi-stakeholder initiative Scaling up DRR in Humanitarian Action 2.0, including development of a Checklist and Recommendations on Scaling up DRR in Humanitarian Action 2.0 launched at the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week in May 2021
  • Supporting country-level roll-out and application of the Checklist & Recommendations, including pilot testing in collaboration with OCHA in HaitiPakistan and South Sudan, with the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Bangladesh, and a global review of risk/DRR in 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overviews/Humanitarian Response Plans 
  • Strengthened partnerships with humanitarian actors to mainstream DRR in humanitarian policies, decisions and guidance, such as the IASC Leadership in Humanitarian Action: Handbook for the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator
  • Technical support to enhance the understanding of and knowledge on risk in humanitarian settings through the Global Risk Assessment Framework
  • Capacity building activities on DRR and risk with humanitarian partners   
  • Supporting countries in fragile contexts to develop national DRR strategies, including in conflict and post-conflict countries  
  • Collecting data on disaster losses through disaster loss databases.   
  • Advocacy and guidance towards effective financing for pre-emptive actions to reduce disaster risk  
  • Advocacy and communications on risk prevention and management in humanitarian contexts

Country snapshots

Snapshot Haiti cover
Country snapshot Haiti
Snapshot Pakistan cover
Country snapshot Pakistan

Statements and opeds

SRSG Mizutori's remarks at High-level Ministerial Event for the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan

9 November 2021United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

Remarks by SRSG Mizutori at High-Level Panel: Humanitarian action and climate change: advancing anticipatory approaches, strengthening resilience and enhancing collaboration in response to the climate crisis

19 July 2021United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

Remarks by the SRSG on the Commemoration of the adoption of the Sendai Framework, Paris Agreement and the Nansen Initiative in 2015 - Platform on Disaster Displacement

11 February 2021United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

Disaster displacement is great humanitarian challenge of 21st century

4 February 2021United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

Disaster displacement

Words into Action: Disaster Displacement

This Words into Action guide offers practical guidance to help government authorities integrate disaster displacement and other related forms of human mobility into regional, national, sub-national and local DRR strategies in accordance with Target (E) of the Sendai Framework, to revise or develop DRR strategies by 2020. It provides basic background information and highlights the various roles DRR and DRM can play in reducing, preparing for and responding to disaster displacement.

Read the Words into Action guidelines - Disaster displacement

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