The day celebrates how people reduce exposure to disasters and create awareness about it
As the world observes UN International Day for Disaster Reduction on October 14 with an objective to raise awareness about actions taken for disaster risk reduction, the theme for this year is ‘Knowledge for Life’.
The day celebrates how people reduce exposure to disasters and create awareness about it.
This year, the focus is on the importance of indigenous knowledge, which in harmony with modern science can add to resilience of both an individual and a society, in case of a calamity. Local knowledge in combination with scientific information can greatly help in taking precautionary measures and planning impact mitigation.
Speaking about lack of specialised research and documentation in Pakistan, Rescue 1122 Emergency Officer Deeba Shahnaz said the disaster management authorities get data, but it is neither properly documented nor properly used for planning. “Universities should be linked with disaster management authorities,” she said. Research scholars can work on the statistics available and the studies can be used for better planning, she added.
There is a dire need to encourage citizens and governments to become aware and take steps towards disaster-resilient communities and nations. For example, the construction of specialised buildings in earthquake-prone areas can greatly reduce damage. The EERI Special Earthquake Report launched in February 2006 states that most of the buildings in the affected area of the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan were of non-engineered unreinforced masonry wall construction, which as expected performed poorly in seismic activity.
Shahnaz also emphasised on the importance of community-based management. Local efforts should be linked to government departments, so that the response is organised and there is less wastage of resources, she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2015.