Original Research

From disaster relief to disaster risk reduction: a consideration of the evolving international relief mechanism

Dewald van Niekerk
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 4, No 2 | a158 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v4i2.158 | © 2008 Dewald van Niekerk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 March 2016 | Published: 04 April 2008

About the author(s)

Dewald van Niekerk, African Centre for Disaster Studies at North-West University’s Potchefstroom campus, South Africa

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Disaster risk reduction is an ever-growing concept and finds its application within various disciplines. This article investigates the development of disaster risk reduction and some of the most important aspects which shaped it. The early years of international disaster relief are discussed and it is shown how a change in this system was necessitated by a variety of factors and international disasters, which exposed its weakness. The article argues that disaster relief and development aid were inextricably linked and it is this linkage which provided a catalyst for questioning the manner in which relief, and development assistance, were provided. The later emphasis on disaster preparedness and management is discussed, and international policies and mechanisms, which contributed to a gradual shift in focus towards disaster risk reduction, enjoy attention. The article concludes that solutions to disaster risks lie within a rigorous trans- disciplinary focus.


Disaster risk reduction; disaster relief; disaster preparedness


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