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Make Your City More Disaster Resilient

If you are looking for ways to make your city more resilient — in other words, better able to withstand and recover from disasters — a growing collection of  handbooks is available, offering detailed advice. Here are two:

* The Center for Climate Strategies offers an Adaptation Guidebook for communities to improve their resilience to the impacts of global climate change.

* The United Nations has published a handbook  for local government leaders, with a “generic framework” for risk reduction. The handbook, written for an international audience and available in several languages, includes lists of best practices and tools. Here is a sample:

The Ten Essentials for Making Cities Resilient

1. Put in place organisation and coordination to understand and reduce disaster risk, based on participation of citizen groups and civil society. Build local alliances. Ensure that all departments understand their role in disaster risk reduction and preparedness.
2. Assign a budget for disaster risk reduction and provide incentives for homeowners, low income families, communities, businesses and the public sector to invest in reducing the risks they face.
3. Maintain up to date data on hazards and vulnerabilities. Prepare risk assessments and use these as the basis for urban development plans and decisions, ensure that this information and the plans for your city’s resilience are readily available to the public and fully discussed with them.
4. Invest in and maintain critical infrastructure that reduces risk, such as flood drainage, adjusted where needed to cope with climate change.
5. Assess the safety of all schools and health facilities and upgrade these as necessary.
6. Apply and enforce realistic, risk compliant building regulations and land use planning principles. Identify safe land for low income citizens and upgrade informal settlements, wherever feasible.
7. Ensure that education programmes and training on disaster risk reduction are in place in schools and local communities.
8. Protect ecosystems and natural buffers to mitigate floods, storm surges and other hazards to which your city may be vulnerable. Adapt to climate change by building on good risk reduction practices.
9. Install early warning systems and emergency management capacities in your city and hold regular public preparedness drills.
10. After any disaster, ensure that the needs of the affected population are placed at the centre of reconstruction, with support for them and their community organisations to design and help implement responses, including rebuilding homes and livelihoods.