Disasters are a major challenge for all households, community, and countries in their effort to achieve better livelihood outcomes. Disasters set back development by destructing years of development efforts. But historically, the impacts of disasters are particularly devastating for developing countries and poor people. Ethiopia is one of the developing countries that have been challenged by number of disaster events. Based on the country’s deep-rooted history of disasters and the past disaster management experience, the transitional government of Ethiopia established the National Policy on Disaster Prevention and Management (NPDPM) in 1993 and restructured the existing response oriented disaster management system into a more proactive disaster management system.
The NPDPM led the shift in thinking from relief and response to development that provides an opportunity for the integration of disaster risk management and sustainable development initiatives in higher education and research institutions. As a response to the identified policy gap in human capacity skill and research, Bahir Dar University has established the Department of Disaster Risk Management and Sustainable Development undergraduate program in 2005 and the Disaster Risk Science post graduate program in 2007. Currently the department is promoted to an institute called Institute of Disaster Risk Management & Food Security Studies (IDRMFSS)
Through its formal (B.Sc and MSc) and short course programmes IDRMFSS aims to tackle the issue in disaster risk management from a developmental perspective. This is so by offering practice based multidisciplinary courses that enables students to acquire skills and knowledge required to integrate risk management plans with government and non-government development plans in ensuring sustainable development. The ultimate outcome is to reduce the risk of loss of life and livelihood as well as property loss using information and research based practices in respect of hazards and underlying vulnerability conditions within the society.