Davies TRH, Davies AJ. 2018. Increasing communities’ resilience to disasters: an impact-based approach. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction. 31:742-749. doi:10.1016/j.ijdrr.2018.07.026.
The conventional processes of science do not appear to result in improved disaster reduction solutions for communities. This is despite intense research into hazards and risk and the incorporation of this research into policy and practice. Resilience to disasters is increased when the societal impacts of disasters are reduced. On this basis, we assess the contribution that Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) can make to Disaster Impact Reduction (DIR). We demonstrate that reducing event risk by reducing event probability only reliably reduces community disaster impacts for events that occur frequently. Such events do not fit the UNISDR definition of a disaster. Therefore, DRR cannot reliably improve DIR. Instead, DIR can be addressed directly by way of community adaptation. We base this on carefully selected impact scenarios created by collaborations of communities, experts, and officials. These collaborations considered a broad range of event and asset damage scenarios. Probabilistic risk is a useful tool in insurance and reinsurance, and possibly in national policy-making. However, such national policies are likely to be undermined by inevitable failures of risk-based approaches at the local level. This work clarifies the common usage of “risk” as the meaning of either impact, or impact x probability.