In today’s world, disasters are becoming more frequent and impactful, with increasing intensity due to the effects of climate change. This fact makes the building of disaster resilience a fundamental need. We define disaster resilience as a communities’ ability to quickly recover and maintain adequate living standards following the shock of a disaster without compromising long-term opportunities and growth. Building disaster resilience into community planning and housing infrastructure reduces vulnerabilities, which can mitigate potential damage to both people and the built environment. Secure land tenure is part of the mix. When clear and strong land rights exist, people are encouraged to invest in disaster mitigation features and improvements for their house and land.

Based on this growing need, disaster resilience is one of Solid Ground’s four campaign subthemes. The Solid Ground campaign is strengthening land rights to build disaster-resilient and responsive communities around the world. Through Habitat for Humanity’s field and advocacy experience, we have seen the broad positive effects of secure land rights in post-disaster environments.

We advocate for working to build safer and more resilient communities, promoting a culture of preparedness and understanding that secure land tenure is a critical component to foster disaster risk reduction. Since 2015, Habitat for Humanity Jamaica has focused on disaster risk reduction and safe housing through providing training, materials and guidance to community members through a highly participatory methodology. Through this approach, the community identifies the disaster risk issues and solutions best fit for their community. The guidance emphasizes proven disaster resilience solutions within the Caribbean including model houses in communities, learning evaluation tools, tools to re-affirm land rights and key disaster preparedness messages spread throughout mass media.

We support disaster risk reduction as a national and local priority, contributing to strong governance and participation of vulnerable populations in the decision-making process by fostering safe shelter and settlements awareness. Habitat for Humanity India supports communities most vulnerable to climate-related disasters, including the historically marginalized Irula tribe. Habitat India has provided research in building disaster resilient housing, opened access to finance options and raised awareness around the challenges of resilient housing in the context of informal settlements.

We call on governments to enact adequate and effective laws and regulations that apply to disaster risk reduction and facilitate sound planning, land use and housing finance. Following major flooding in Nepal in 2018, Habitat for Humanity Nepal conducted surveys of disaster victims’ land and housing needs. Habitat partnered with local policymakers to build an effective land allocation and financing system for housing, enabling 500 people to build homes on safer ground, reducing disaster risk in the future. 

Understanding the importance of building sustainable and viable communities, Habitat for Humanity International advocates for disaster resilience throughout all land and housing solutions globally.