Monday, October 13, 2014
Today, on the International Day for Disaster Reduction, we celebrate the resilience of people and communities affected by disasters around the world. We also celebrate the action we are all taking to reduce our vulnerability to disasters.
Last year, humanitarian needs arising from natural disasters, conflict and food insecurity—or a lack of access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food—reached record levels. Canada responded to these needs with an unprecedented amount of humanitarian assistance, contributing to efforts in 54 countries, including Syria, the Philippines, the Central African Republic and South Sudan, and responding to 25 natural disasters, including heavy flooding in Laos, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica.
It’s clear that Canada and Canadians act quickly and effectively when we receive calls for assistance from countries facing natural disasters, crisis or conflicts. Canada is regularly one of the first countries to respond with life-saving assistance in the wake of natural disasters or other emergency situations, as we did after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, for example. But responding to humanitarian crises after they happen is not enough.
Canada also supports efforts to make sure that vulnerable communities are better prepared for disasters, which can lessen their impact and the suffering they cause. This is key because achieving sustainable economic growth and reducing poverty are not possible in communities where people are engaged in a constant struggle to survive in the face of devastating humanitarian crises.
That’s why Canada is working with the Canadian Red Cross in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Americas to help strengthen the resilience of communities to crises and give them the tools they need to better prepare for and respond to emergency needs at the local level. Addressing the needs of the most vulnerable people in every community, including women, children and older people, is at the heart of disaster risk reduction laws and policies.
Working in partnership with governments, civil society and the private sector, Canada’s development program is also helping to build longer-term responses to disasters so that societies can not only survive and rebuild, but thrive. We are exploring ways to prevent loss of life, reduce damage to infrastructure, and ensure that people have the means to earn a decent living following a disaster. Canada also supports the Hyogo Framework for Action, which encourages all stakeholders to work together to build resilient nations and communities to make the world safer from natural hazards.
Through our humanitarian assistance, our development program and our partnerships, Canada is helping to build a world that is better prepared for 21st century challenges, a world that is more resilient to disaster.
Our efforts are saving lives. Canadians can be proud of this.
Minister of International Development and La Francophonie