Taking the fight to the floods

Author: Dr. Luca Alinovi

Posted on 12 August 2016

Natural disasters come in many different forms, yet their devastating impact on vulnerable communities remains the same. Worryingly, what also remains the same is today’s aid and development approach, and the way it fails to successfully address these disasters.

Floods cause more damage worldwide than any other type of natural disaster, costing the global economy US$90 billion every year, and affecting more than 2.3 billion people over the last two decades. Moreover, 90% of flood aid is spent on “recovery” – ironic, as how can communities be allowed to recover and thrive if they remain in a constantly reactive state?

What if, rather than focusing on repair, we built resilience to help communities better manage and adapt to inevitable shocks? What if we could convert risk and exposure into opportunity?

During a recent field trip in Kenya, the Global Resilience Partnership (GRP) team had an enlightening conversation with Bernard Ndolo Munyao, a farmer for over 20 years, living and working in Tala town in Machakos county (which is in the lower Eastern region of Kenya) with his young family. The finer details of our discussion are captured in the video above, but speaking with him provided us with a great sense of affirmation that the mission of GRP is more important than ever.

This includes programs and challenges such as Water Window, run by GRP alongside Zurich Insurance. It offers grants of up to US$1 million for teams offering innovative solutions to issues affecting flood prone communities across the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and South and Southeast Asia.

Our work helps ensure that people like Bernard aren’t confined to always going back to square one and that communities have the resources to take the fight to the floods.