DRR programmes and projects vary widely in terms of size, aims, focus and methods, but all are similar in being a series of activities to achieve specific objectives and outcomes within a defined period of time. The basic principles and elements of good planning are common to most development and DRR projects, and are covered in standard manuals and guidelines. This chapter focuses on those aspects that are most directly relevant to DRR, either in stand-alone projects or as part of wider development, humanitarian or recovery initiatives: methods for assessing and analysing hazards, risk, vulnerability and capacity, and ways of adapting existing planning tools to take account of these factors. Chapter 18 looks at the monitoring and evaluation of DRR initiatives.
It is often argued that projects are an artificial and limited way of dealing with the complexities of risk, vulnerability and sustainable development. Recent thinking about development, resilience, systems and adaptation is exploring alternative forms of action outside conventional project boundaries, favouring planning that is integrated across sectors and involves more extensive partnerships. Nevertheless, programme and project management is still operational agencies’ main approach.
Planning a project assumes that something will be done to address hazard and vulnerability problems. This may not always be the case, however. Conventional risk management approaches allow the option of ignoring identified risks, principally on the grounds that they are minimal; that the chance of a major disaster happening is too remote; or that there are other more immediate or significant problems to address. Only when a decision has been made to address the identified risks do other project planning processes come into play. The stages then are to identify and evaluate the different options for dealing with risks, select the options and approaches to be taken and prepare and implement plans.