Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

Minister Dlamini Zuma’s Opening Remarks during South Africa’s IDDR Commemorative Event

Programme Director

Honourable Ministers

Honourable Deputy Ministers

Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders

Members of the Executive Councils for COGTA

Your Worships the Mayors

Chairperson of the Municipal Demarcation Board,

Directors-General and officials

Representatives from the academia and Non-Governmental Organisations

Our esteemed Panellists

Ladies and gentlemen


I wish to take this opportunity to welcome you to this year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction which we ordinary host on the 13 of October, every year. However due to the effects of COVID-19 we have had to defer the hosting of the event to today and have had to assume the virtual format. Although we have moved to level1 the is still with us and with increased movement and economic activity so has the risk increased. We must remain ever vigilant, as the potential of a second wave looms.

This puts into sharp focus this year’s theme of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction to “substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020”.

This year’s theme is practical and will assist in ensuring that lessons from COVID-19 are addressed in a practical manner through the implementation of disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategies. The theme also emphasizes that with the political will as well as active and empowered communities many disasters can be avoided or prevented. This requires appropriate collective governance frameworks as well as enabling and appropriate policies, tools, programmes and activist personnel. Through the international day, we intend to lay a solid foundation for advocacy and action orientated programmes that will promote disaster prevention, good risk governance, planning and implementation. This requires us to act in unison and systemically to strengthen the resilience of our people to “anticipate, withstand and recover better from shocks and stresses”.[1]

Programme Director, isolated and underdeveloped communities do not have the necessary information, communications tools and capacities to be able to anticipate any form of disaster. Impoverished and unskilled communities will not have sufficient resources, safety nets and infrastructure to withstand any shape of disasters. Unequal societies will not have the capacities to holistically develop and implement effective recovery plans. Consequently, we must not isolate our disaster prevention and management plans from our developmental aspirations. It is only empowered and economically developed communities that can anticipate, withstand and better recover from disasters.

In order to ensure that we build resilient, vibrant, connected, sustainable and climate smart communities we are implementing the District Development Model in all 52 district spaces. The building of such communities requires a developmental local government which is “committed to working with citizens and groups within the community to find sustainable ways to meet their social, economic and material needs and improve the quality of their lives[2].

Thus the DDM seeks to marshal all of society and the provincial and national spheres of government to support local government to meet its developmental obligations. For the national and provincial spheres to be able to undertake this, they must cease to operate in silos, they must work amongst each other and with the local sphere of governance. In so doing they will be able to also narrow the gap between government and the people thus ensuring agile, effective and sustainable responses.

This means our disaster management plans must be localised, rooted in the people and form an integral part of all our developmental plans. This will ensure that government in general and the local sphere in particular responds appropriately and with agility. Thus we must use this year’s commemoration to accelerate the number of disaster management plans deposited at the National Disaster Management Centre.

Ladies and gentlemen, in any disaster, natural or man-made, women and children are often those who suffer most. The DDM therefore advocates for gender responsive budgeting. By specifically budgeting and targeting in rand terms for women’s empowerment, we can be certain that resources are targeted at women. By aligning our resources, we can also maximise impact and facilitate for local economic development. COVID-19 has shown the urgency by which we must transform our economies, improve access to basic services, and empower our communities. This will facilitate for resilient and sustainable responses to pandemics and calamities such as disease and climate emergencies.  

COVID 19 has also highlighted the need to strengthen our risk reduction strategies and disaster management frameworks, systems and personnel. More has to be done to ensure that our overall risk reduction and disaster management strategies are multi sectoral and create linkages to our broad development aspirations. Our strategies must also find tangible expression at provincial and national levels and must have all stakeholders involved, so that all of society can be active participants in prevention, avoidance and mitigation.

Going forward, we must measure our disasters not in loss of lives or infrastructure but rather in lives saved as well as the social and economic losses avoided. Consequently, we must formulate active partnerships with the academia and throughout society, ours must be a data and information driven response which is faster and more effective. Our strategies must respond to multiple hazards or disasters and should imbed an early warning system. They must also be adaptive and effective.

Now is the time to raise the bar so that we may ensure that we leave a more resilient plan for future generations. The implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction with its 7 targets and 38 indicators gives sets a foundation to do so. May we use this year’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction to take stock of where we are, so that we may enhance our disaster management architecture.

Programme director, as COVID-19 has shown us any disaster affects all of us to varying degrees. This International Day avails the possibility to strengthen our individual, community, government and civil society contributions towards becoming agents of change in building a disaster resilient nation and communities. 

Let us use the 2020 re-commit ourselves to ensure that we engage in preparedness planning on an individual, organisational, and institutional basis throughout the country.

We call on local and provincial governments, to ensure our preparedness to handle any form of disaster. This will require sound partnerships between citizens, government and the private sector.

Ladies and gentlemen let us utilise this session to sharpen our approach towards promoting disaster risk reduction. I declare the 2020 commemoration of the International Day for Disaster Reduction officially open.


Thank you.

[1] See UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Concept Note 2020 International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction,

[2] See White Paper on Local Government, 1998