Why We Need Disaster Management
Presently, the Earth has become host to a myriad of natural calamities. From destructive earthquakes such as the one that shook Japan back in 2010, to deadly super typhoons as massive as Haiyan which ripped across the Philippines in 2013, natural calamities will happen and their effects would not be far from disruptive.
Aside from the loss of life and property, destructive phenomena can also bring a country down to its knees. One thing is sure no one will ever ignore the wide social and implications of a natural disaster. Agricultural output is affected and will entail a great loss in the national food supply. Damaged infrastructure on the other hand paralyzes relief efforts to affected communities and paralyzes economic activity altogether. Even greater still is the humanitarian crisis that follows in the wake of a typhoon or an earthquake. The fact of the matter is that governments need to prepare for such scenarios, and not doing enough in this area can worsen the effects of a calamity and lead towards a widespread disaster.
It is against this backdrop that states need to set up a disaster management structure to address the problems occurring before, during, and after a horrific calamity. At present, many states have already established national council that aim to mitigate risks and to efficiently respond to the demands of post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation.
To be sure, the South East Asia region sits within what is called as the Pacific Rim of Fire. The region hosts numerous active volcanoes and is prone to frequent earthquakes in varying magnitudes. Aside from that, the region lies directly in the path of typhoons, and no doubt that countries like the Philippines and Taiwan are the first countries to feel the brunt of a storm as it enters the Asian mainland.
It was on this premise that countries within the region were able to operationalize important institutions that shall be equipped appropriately to handle disaster management functions. The Association of South East Asian Nations, for that matter, institutionalized a Disaster Management Council which serves to improve the disaster resiliency of member nations. For their part, member countries were able to set up their own inter-agency councils to address four important areas in disaster management.
Mitigation. Through the aid of scientific organs, countries are able to identify hazard areas and set up appropriate monitoring stations and research that will pinpoint high risk locations.
Preparedness. At the local level, governments must create an efficient system for evacuating populations and minimize the number of casualties accordingly. Preparedness is an important component in disaster resiliency as it empowers communities to work together in setting up appropriate protocols in the event a natural disaster strikes.
Response. The premise of response is to provide immediate relief to those directly affected by a natural calamity. Governments must work to set establish communication lines and handle the logistics in delivering basic goods that keep communities alive. What is more, governments must also formulate a system in which the delivery of basic necessities such as food, clothing and other goods goes unhindered by geographic constraints.
Recovery. Three months after a disaster, governments should then enter the recovery stage in which damaged infrastructure and losses in economic output and other resources are re-built. For this, disaster councils must work with lawmakers to allocate budgets intended to fund projects that will not only resurrect lost infrastructure, but also improve the disaster resiliency of a country.
It is in these respects that disaster management should be an aspect that shouldn’t be left out of discourse. States are basically responsible for the life and safety of their citizens. And by not doing well in helping them recover from a horrific natural tragedy, states would be betraying this ideal.