Follow us on Medium  to stay up to date on Call for Code

See how you can use your coding skills to change the world

When a natural disaster devastates a community and lives are lost, the collective response tends to be “thoughts and prayers.”

The magnitude of these events and the pace at which they occur can result in a feeling of uncertainly about where and how to help. And with extreme weather only getting worse, those feelings are magnified.

Thankfully, the international community has a roadmap aimed at substantially reducing disaster risk and preventing loss of life and economic livelihood. To address the risks from natural disasters, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, a 15-year voluntary agreement, was adopted by United Nations Member States in March 2015.

Seven global targets

The framework is a result of three years’ of discussions assisted by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), after noting that an improved framework was needed to adequately and feasibly prepare communities for future disasters. The community agreed upon seven global targets that currently make up the Sendai Framework:

  1. Substantially reduce global disaster mortality by 2030, aiming to lower average per 100,000 global mortality between 2020-2030 compared to 2005-2015;
  2. Substantially reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030, aiming to lower the average global figure per 100,000 between 2020-2030 compared to 2005-2015;
  3. Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product by 2030;
  4. Substantially reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, among them health and educational facilities, including through developing their resilience by 2030;
  5. Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020;
  6. Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation of the framework by 2030;
  7. Substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030.

Source: UNISDR’s Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction document

“The framework is designed to help national and local governments unpack the concept of disaster risk and reduction and serves as an easy-to-use checklist. Since the framework was first adopted in 2015, many governments, national and local, are working to develop baselines on the status of risk reduction in their jurisdiction,” says Sanjaya Bhatia, speaking on behalf of the UNISDR. “For example, local governments are using the Disaster Resilience Scorecard to develop a baseline. They are then using the baselines to develop action plans for reducing disaster risk.”

Other complications from natural disasters

Unfortunately, the first target’s numbers on reducing global mortality doesn’t factor in secondary or long-term health effects that can result from natural disasters. Two well-known issues that come to mind are the health effects from radiation that were caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and water-borne disases and West Nile virus from Hurrican Katrina. Not to mention secondary health effects from wildfires, volcanoes, earthquakes, and many more. Reported numbers of global mortality in years past don’t necessarily factor in delayed onset mortality rates. According to Sanjaya Bhatia, he states that the numbers from 2005-2015 do not include those who would have secondary health problems that result in delayed mortality. Those statistics would actually cause those numbers to be even higher.

You might ask yourself, if extreme weather is only getting worse (thereby potentially increasing the amount of natural disasters), how can the framework possibly achieve lower mortality despite dire circumstances?

How individuals can help efforts targeted by the Sendai Framework

Though the framework’s guidance is geared towards national and local governments, the framework is a tool that you can use as an individual. Whether it is through volunteering efforts through your government or coming up with a solution that could be deployed through Call for Code, you can actually be a part of the solution.

The Sendai Framework is especially important to developers who are interested in participating in Call for Code 2019, as technology is at the core of much of our world. “There are a number of tools available for governments and stakeholders. It would be very useful if the tools are online and easy to use. The data from the tools could be stored online. Having these options will ensure access and ease of updating.” For developers who are interested in developing a solution to reduce the risks of natural disasters, Mr. Bhatia suggests that developers “try to understand the premise of the framework, read the preamble and look through the list of contents, and the type of stakeholders. Go beyond the global targets, there is much more out there!” Read and download the framework here:

Spring into action

Now that you have a good idea of the Sendai Framework, here are some ideas as a starting point where you might consider creating solutions. Daniel Krook, CTO of Call for Code, states that “identifying and aiding people with reduced or restricted mobility who require special assistance (disabled, hospitalized, elderly, confined)” is one area for this year’s challenge as part of the 2019’s healthcare focus.

Another factor to consider would be “alerting organizations to increase their stocks of antibiotics, insulin, bottled water, and vaccines based on predicted weather-related disruptions,” says Daniel Krook.

Here are two specific examples that address these issues in our code patterns, Analyze open medical datasets to gain insights and Create visualizations to understand food insecurity.

“But there are plenty of solutions, such as in the fields of AI, machine learning, weather data, IoT, and blockchain technologies that you can use for inspiration in building your solutions,” suggests Daniel Krook.

For more information, check out the Resources tab on the Call for Code site for a full list of technologies, code patterns, and tutorials to help you get started.

This year’s global challenge asks developers to create an application that improves individual health and community wellbeing through better natural disaster preparedness, accelerated response, and/or a greater capacity to recover.

Whether it be a focus on how to address the delayed health problems that arise after a natural disaster hits or to prepare individuals who are at a higher risk (the elderly, young children, those with existing medical conditions, disabilities, etc.), you can be the change with your coding skills! Accept the global challenge where your solution may save lives – we can’t wait to see what you come up with!


Check out these resources for more information: