Our Programmes



Sign up to our newsletter.

Follow ODI

Disaster risk reduction in fragile and conflict affected contexts

Time (GMT +01) 15:00 16:30
Hero image description: Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh Image credit:Russell Watkins/Department for International Development Image license:CC-BY-2.0


Sara Pantuliano @SaraPantuliano - Managing Director, Overseas Development Institute

Opening remarks

Dr Thomas Helfen - Head of Division Peace and Security, Disaster Risk Management at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)


Amjad Abbashar - Head of Regional Office for Africa, UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

Ayesha Siddiqi - Lecturer, Royal Holloway, University of London

Katie Peters @katiepetersodi - Senior Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute

Rina Meutia - Disaster Risk Management Specialist, Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), World Bank (via videolink)


Natural hazard related disasters hit those living in fragile and conflict affected contexts hardest. Between 2004 and 2014, 58% of deaths from disasters occurred in the top 30 most fragile states. Yet, considerations of conflict are missing from the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) policy, programming and financing architecture.

While the internationally agreed Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) exists, it can only be achieved by developing an evidence base, policy and practice on how best to pursue DRR in conflict settings, and redirecting spending to those contexts. This will require challenging our existing assumptions and better understanding the relationship between hazards, vulnerability, exposure and types of conflict.

ODI research uncovers the political and institutional barriers to adapting DRR policy, practice and overseas development assistance to fragile or conflict-affected contexts. It reveals a hesitancy to explore the relationship between disasters and conflict, and tendency to prioritise peace and security over DRR in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. 

The event hosts open and frank discussions on why DRR policy, programming and financing has yet to be sufficiently applied to conflict and fragile contexts, exploring the following questions:

  • What are some of the blockages and challenges to DRR in these contexts?
  • What innovative and practical steps can be taken to support the implementation of the SFDRR in conflict and fragile settings?


Sara Pantuliano is a Managing Director at ODI, where she has led the humanitarian team for six years. She is a member of the Global Future Council on the Humanitarian System of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Managing Editor of Disasters Journal and a Trustee of IRIN news and SOS Sahel. She has recently been appointed as the Vice-Chair of the Board of Muslim Aid, and has served on a range of advisory boards, including Oxford University’s Refugees Studies Centre and the UN Association of the UK.

Amjad Abbashar is the Chief of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Regional Office for Africa, and was previously the Chief of the UNISDR Regional Office for Arab States based in Cairo. Prior to UNISDR, he worked with UNOCHA in the field and at Headquarter level, where among others, he focused on developing policies related to humanitarian affairs and their interface with the UN’s political and peacekeeping agendas. In OCHA, he assumed the posts of Chief of Staff and later Chief of the Policy, Planning and Analysis Section.

Ayesha Siddiqi joined Royal Holloway as a Lecturer in Human Geography in February 2016. Her research focuses on climatic disasters and their interaction with politics, security and development. Ayesha has worked as a consultant for DFID to provide support on the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) in Tajikistan, provided support on a UNEP project on climate change and conflict in Darfur and contributed to a UNISDR study examining pathways for transformation after disasters. Ayesha is currently leading a GCRF funded research project on disasters in insurgency affected areas in the Philippines.

Katie Peters has been a Senior Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) since 2011. Leading ODI’s portfolio on the intersection of natural hazard-related disasters, climate change, and conflict, her research focuses on disaster risk reduction in fragile and conflict-affected states, the relationship between climate change and conflict, and the securitisation of climate change.

Rina Meutia is a Disaster Risk Management Specialist at the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) at the World Bank. She has firsthand experience responding to major disasters, including the Indian Ocean Tsunami in her native Aceh, Indonesia; the Kashmir earthquake in Pakistan; and the Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar. Prior to joining the Bank, Rina was Team Leader for Reducing Vulnerabilities and Managing Risks in the World Humanitarian Summit Secretariat – OCHA at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Dr Thomas Helfen is since 2016 the Head of Division Peace and Security, Disaster Risk Management at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). He previously served as Deputy Head of Division South Caucasus and Central Asia (2001-2005), Deputy Head of Division United Nations (2005-2006), Head of Division for Economic Cooperation and Development at the German Embassy, Beijing (2006-2010), Head of Division South Asia (2011-2014) and Head of Division Parliament and Cabinet Affairs (2014-2016).

203 Blackfriars Road London