About disaster risk management in the postal sector

Japan Tsunami

Natural disasters and the postal sector: impact and response

In recent years, the world has seen its share of natural disasters, with devastating effects on populations and countries' communication infrastructure, including postal networks.

From tsunamis in Japan and South East Asia to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, and the earthquakes in Chile or Haiti, natural disasters directly impact public postal services by causing damage to infrastructure, vehicles and equipment, loss of postal items and customer data and even loss of lives. As a result, an important trade and communication channel is halted or impeded.

At the same time, disasters can also highlight the value of postal services in post-disaster response. Given their extensive network, post offices and mail processing centres can act as distribution points for emergency supplies, postal services can help coordinate emergency aid operations and provide much needed money transfers to victims in affected areas as well as a basic means of communication.

Few people like postal employees know so well the community they serve. Increasing Posts' resilience can further contribute to better managing risks when natural disasters strike and to communities' own resilience.

A global policy for the postal sector

The UPU is committed to supporting the United Nations' actions in disaster risk reduction. Since 2013, the UPU has been developing a global disaster risk reduction and management policy for the postal sector , consistent with the main international instruments: "The Hyogo Framework for Action" and "The UN Plan of Action on Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience". The latter encourages UN specialized agencies to include climate change and disaster risk management into their activities.

The UPU's objective is to ensure that the postal sector can itself adapt relevant strategies to face the challenges of increased natural hazards and potential adverse impacts on its worldwide network. These will ultimately help make the postal network more resilient to disasters and a key component of the national disaster response. It will also enhance local communities' ability to resist to disasters, thanks to the information conveyed through the postal network.