Celebrating International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction within a Crisis Overcoming obstacles and recognizing opportunities

The International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction was started in 1989, to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction. Held every 13 October, the day celebrates how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters and raising awareness about vulnerabilities, and focus on the importance of mitigating the risks that they face.

As we approach the 31st International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, never before has the global community experienced a shared common hazard that has reached and felt by every country and community across the world. However, as we all share the same experiences, hardships and challenges, we are united by a common global goal to, combat COVID-19, to prevent its spread, protect the vulnerable and to safeguard our families and communities.

Though Africa has been spared much of the hardships and devastation that the virus has ravaged across other nations, many of our livelihoods and activities across the continent have been severely affected. In particular, education institutions, their students and staff have faced enormous challenges and obstacles over the last year. Higher education institutions have been forced to close their doors and almost shut down all research and education, in order to protect their students and staff. Many students left in limbo and uncertain about advancing and completing their academic careers.

However, despite the trials brought by the pandemic, it has also inspired great innovation across education institutions. Partners of the PERIPERI U consortium, like many other universities in Africa and the Globe, have begun to explore, invest and embrace online teaching and learning, providing new blended learning opportunities for their students, to continue and complete their studies. This is particularly important for the Disaster Risk sector in the continent, who more than ever need the surge of graduates learned in vulnerability, risk, resilience and governance, raising capacity within the continent, to combat future threats and help build more resilient and sustainable African societies.

Over the past 15 years the PERIPERI U partners have been committed to advancing disaster risk-related scholarship in support of sustainable development and more specifically risk reduction against hazards and disasters. Periperi U’s partners share a strong conviction that African universities can advance disaster risk reduction efforts, both in Africa and more broadly, by producing graduates with ‘fit for purpose’ skill-sets appropriate for tackling local risks – and that in developing new curricula, they can build capacity for local and national risk management practice across the continent. PERIPERI U partners will continue to carry out the ideals of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, working together with stakeholders across Africa and the global community to invest in building capacity, participating in research, and conducting advocate to raise awareness of the importance of mitigating risk in all forms.