Disaster Risk Management

Building people’s resilience to disasters and conflict

One of the key development challenges of our time is the increasing number of people placed at risk of crises and disasters; people's vulnerability increases due to shocks and trends as a result of natural and man-made hazards. The number, complexity and impact of disasters are increasing which heightens the need for better disaster management. Disaster Risk Management has become one of the cornerstones of international development: there is urgency to reduce disaster losses and a need to minimize the impact of disasters on sustainable development. 


Disasters are, in essence, the result of poorly managed risk and human failure to introduce appropriate risk reduction measures. Effective crises and disaster responses therefore demand a shift away from reactive Emergency Relief to pro-active Disaster Risk Reduction. Disaster Risk Management therefore combines the concept of response and recovery (in the post-disaster phase) with the concept of prevention, mitigation and preparedness (the pre-disaster phase). 


Graduates of this specialisation will be better able to respond to natural and man-made disasters in increasingly complex and dynamic environments. In the context of increasing climate variability and climate change (slow-onset disasters), this specialization pays attention to linking Disaster Risk Reduction with Climate Change Adaptation. The Disaster Risk Management specialisation also touches on conflict, making the course also relevant for those working in tense and conflict affected regions. Central to the specialisation is the focus on reducing the negative impacts of disasters and conflict on peoples’ lives and livelihoods and to build people’s resilience to disasters, crises and conflict.


  • To apply disaster and conflict theories to real-life crises and disaster settings;
  • To understand the changing roles, responsibilities and modes of operations of key Disaster Risk Management actors;
  • To design and conduct risk and context analyses aimed to identify appropriate disaster response strategies and options;
  • To analyse and strengthen local risk governance;
  • To apply emerging good-practice integrated approaches to address crucial issues in building community resilience;
  • To address challenges faced by agencies and staff in responding to crises, including safety and security concerns; 
    To conduct applied research in disaster and conflict affected communities/settings. 

Career benefits and opportunities

Within an increasingly complex and dynamic context, graduates are trained and equipped to enhance community resilience of communities and reduce the impact of crises and disasters on sustainable development. 

Graduates have acquired new insights and know how to use innovative approaches, which have proved their potential to build community resilience to better manage risks as required by the nature of today’s crises and disasters. By looking through a disaster and conflict lens, graduates can make an important contribution to sustainable development.