Tools for Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction


The project has completed its second phase of work to produce guidance notes on adapting existing appraisal tools to take risks emanating from natural hazards into account. Hivos and Circle Indonesia translated the publication into Bahasa Indonesia and launched it on 25 September 2007 in Yogyakarta. The Spanish translation is now also available.

A sourcebook on assessing the impact of risk reduction measures was also developed.


Project goal

To ensure that risks emanating from natural hazards are considered as a matter of course in the design of all development projects in hazard-prone areas, so that appropriate measures are taken to reduce risk and projects do not create new forms of vulnerability. This will result in a more cost-efficient use of resources, together with reduced disaster losses.

Project summary

As the human and financial costs of disasters rise, there are increasing demands for better evidence that mitigation 'pays'. To generate such evidence, appropriate tools are needed to assess the costs and benefits of mitigation, which can take many forms (human, social and environmental as well as financial). However, there is no coherent set of tools for capturing costs and benefits at present.

This project aims to address this gap, by identifying and assessing appropriate tools, giving practical guidance on how to apply them and disseminating this guidance among development decision makers and planners, as well as those involved in implementing and evaluating disaster risk reduction initiatives.


The project began in September 2003 and the second phase was completed in March 2007. The guidance notes are currently being widely disseminated. They also feed into IFI staff training modules.


The project is led by researchers Charlotte Benson and John Twigg. They are supported by an advisory group drawn from donor and operational agencies of different kinds, including ProVention partners, and by a much larger number of expert reviewers.

Outputs & events

Phase 1

Scoping study

Synthesis report

Policy brief

Phase 1 consisted of a scoping study which entailed a review of donor and operational agency documentation and procedures to see how risks emanating from natural hazards are currently handled. It was based on an analysis of published and internal documents, supported by interviews with selected agencies and inputs from a large number of professionals worldwide. The resulting report drew a number of conclusions about current practice and made several policy recommendations for improvements. Among the key findings of the study were that:

  • Many of the standard tools currently used by development agencies in designing projects are capable of being used to assess risks emanating from natural hazards and potential returns to mitigation.
  • There is nothing intrinsically difficult about appraising natural hazard related risks or monitoring and evaluating risk reduction activities if these tasks are approached thoughtfully and resourced adequately.
  • However, natural hazards and related vulnerability are rarely considered in designing and appraising development projects.
  • Monitoring and evaluation of disaster reduction initiatives is also a relatively neglected area, particularly in terms of evaluation of impact.

A scoping study, a synthesis report and a policy brief were launched at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe, Japan, in January 2005 and were widely advertised in the development and disaster management communities. Open House International for instance recently published the article 'Tools for Analysing Disaster Risk in Designing and Evaluating Projects' in its edition on Managing Urban Disasters (flyer, pdf - 1BM).

Phase 2

Phase 2 (January 2005-March 2007) built on the findings of Phase 1, moving from research to the development of practical tools - guidance notes and handbooks - supporting mainstreaming of risk within aid agencies.

The project published a series of 14 guidance notes on adapting existing tools and guidelines used for project appraisal and evaluation, and for developing broader country and sectoral strategies, to take risks emanating from natural hazards into account and analyse related risk reduction opportunities. The series covers the following subjects:

  1. Introduction
  2. Collecting and using information on natural hazards
  3. Poverty reduction strategies
  4. Country programming
  5. Project cycle management
  6. Logical and results based frameworks
  7. Environmental assessment
  8. Economic analysis
  9. Vulnerability and capacity analysis
  10. Sustainable livelihoods approaches
  11. Social impact assessment
  12. Construction design, building standards and site selection
  13. Evaluating disaster risk reduction initiatives
  14. Budget support

Full report including all guidance notes in English, Bahasa Indonesia, and Spanish.

Next Steps

A more detailed handbook will be produced on an area of particular importance, monitoring and evaluating the impact of disaster risk reduction measures. This handbook will provide guidance on planning and implementing evaluations, the application and value of different approaches and methods, and choice and validity of different indicators. It will also contain case studies of 'good practice' and case evidence on the net benefits of risk reduction.


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