" Safer communities and sustainable development through
disaster risk reduction "
As a leading regional resource center, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) works towards the realization of disaster reduction for safer communities and sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific. Since its inception in 1986, ADPC has been recognized as the major independent center in the region for promoting disaster awareness and the development of local capabilities to foster institutionalized disaster management and mitigation policies. ADPC was originally established as an outreach center of the Asian Institute of Technology after a feasibility study conducted jointly by two agencies of the United Nations, the Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Coordinator (current the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) and the World Meteorological Organization in January 1986. Funding for the study was provided by the United Nations Development Program in response to requests from countries in the region for international assistance to strengthen their national disaster management systems. Thus, the initial role conceived for the center was mandated by an expressed need to assist countries of the Asia and the Pacific region in formulating their policies and developing their capabilities in all aspects of disaster management.
ADPC Core Principles
Following the vision and guided by the inspiring leadership of the Founding Director of the Center, Col. Brian Ward, ADPC envisaged five core principles for its activities in disaster management. The first priority of disaster preparedness should be the safety of people most at risk, followed by the protection of critical property. Secondly, concern should be for the welfare and self-reliance of individuals, their families, and their communities during a disaster, even though intervention at the time calls for provincial, national, and international coordination. The third principle is that disaster preparedness activities should be the responsibility of government and community based organizations and integrated into development planning. The fourth and inclusive belief is that disaster preparedness requires a multi-disciplinary, all-hazards approach to addressing the many issues involved, and collaboration among government and non-government organizations, research and training institutions, and the private sector. The final principle is that access to current information on the causes and consequences of disasters is the basis of sound disaster management planning.
Since its formation, ADPC has been true to these early objectives. First, the Center aims to promote increased awareness, knowledge and adoption of disaster reduction practices as an integral part of the development process at community, national, sub-regional, regional and international levels of engagement. Secondly, ADPCs primary focus lies in helping countries, organizations, communities and individuals strengthen their own capacities in all respects to reduce the impacts of disasters. It is widely acknowledged that building strong local ownership through informed and motivated participation in disaster risk endeavors is the most assured way to sustain disaster risk reduction and ensure human development. Another crucial element in this respect is to translate scientific knowledge into cost effective and environmentally suited practices that are well understood by the communities concerned. In other instances successful activities proceed from the continued appreciation of elements derived from indigenous knowledge. As such, ADPC has worked to enhance capacities through the regular assessment of needs in the region and to develop specific, context-driven and appropriate capacity building products and services. Thirdly, the Center puts great emphasis on promoting partnerships among the organizations with which it works and by means of networks with communities and other players in the field of disaster management. It has pursued this through the continuous exchange of experiences, shared practices and efforts both to document and disseminate lessons from its many activities and partners.
Fourth, the Center strives to be an initiating and responsive regional resource center but one with international status that can enable even wider professional relevance and recognition. While being supported by countries of the region, it should not be left behind in accessing international best practices and resources to play an active role in related endeavors. In this regard, ADPC has been a vocal advocate of South-South cooperation in the exchange of information, experiences and professional resources.
ADPC has also always been an active contributor to advancing wider international agendas that have a bearing on disaster risk reduction such as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, and current attention to climate change adaptation initiatives. Fifth, and importantly, ADPC has not spared any efforts to maintain and improve itself as a diverse, interdisciplinary, international team backed by efficient, supportive management systems, focused on providing the highest quality of service to the region.
ADPC started as a training provider, as the UN feasibility study on the disaster management needs of the region identified training to build the operational capacities at the regional, national and community levels as the greatest need of all. Since then, with the progress of more national policy commitments and resulting regional affiliations for comprehensive disaster management, the roles that ADPC has been performing also have evolved. These can be broadly categorized as the following:
- Development of capacities and promotion of learning
- Dissemination of information and knowledge management
- Provision of technical and advisory services
- Implementation of pioneering regional programs
- Preparations and follow up of global and regional mechanisms
- Establishment of new regional mechanisms
- Support for inter-agency coherence and coordination
- Catalytic facilitator and partner of sub regional mechanisms
ADPC Thematic Focus
As the practice of disaster risk reduction has both expanded in scope, but also become more sophisticated involving additional professional interests, ADPC has defined niche thematic areas of interest and concern; and to build up institutional core competencies, technical expertise, and trusting external partnerships within these areas, while consolidating past achievements and experience gained through working on these areas. The box below shows the 12 thematic areas of focus of ADPC.
- Good governance and Disaster Risk Management Systems Development
- Urban Disaster Risk Management
- Climate Variability and Change/Climate Risk Management
- Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction
- Public Health in Emergencies/Health Risk Management
- Emergency Preparedness and Response System Development
- Geological Hazard Risk Management
- End to End Multi Hazard Early Warning Systems
- Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction into Development
- Post-disaster Recovery and Reconstruction
- Risk Assessment
- Technological Hazard Risk Management.
In sum, ADPCs activities demonstrate a wide diversity in application, address various types of natural hazard-induced disaster risks, and cover all aspects of the disaster management spectrum from prevention and mitigation, through preparedness and response, to recovery responsibilities.