Bold steps in disaster management

Wednesday October 18, 2017 Written by Published in Local

Past cyclone experiences have prompted the government to take some bold steps in reviewing and updating its institutional arrangements for disaster management.

 

And one of the key outcomes of the review, says Emergency Management Cook Islands director Charles Carlson, is a shift in policy from focusing only on disaster management to a holistic approach to disaster risk reduction.

Speaking on the International Day for Disaster Reduction which was celebrated on Friday last week, Carlson said the latest review for disaster management was done after five cyclones in 2005 that devastated the Cook Islands.

“What was required was a drastic mind shift away from waiting until a disaster happens and acting retrospectively, to becoming proactive in doing what we can to prevent natural and man-made hazards from becoming disasters,” Carlson said.

“If total prevention is not possible, our actions will at least serve to reduce the impact of a disaster if it does happen.”

Until recently, disaster managers and practitioners have focused their efforts mainly on the response phase or immediately after the crisis.

Carlson said this practice was still dominant across the region and even internationally.

He said disaster risk reduction does not replace the more traditional disaster management which is more focused on emergency response.

But Carlson added it was a more proactive approach to disaster risk reduction.

“An independent study from organisations including the World Bank and the European Commission have indicated that for every $1 invested in disaster prevention or disaster risk reduction, $4 to $7 are saved in disaster response,”

He said.

“We can’t stop a cyclone happening but we can minimise its impact if we are prepare well.

“That is why, we are being very proactive in disaster risk reduction to try and prevent or minimise the impact of any potential disaster happening in the Cooks Islands.”

Meanwhile the focus of this year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction has been on people as attention shifts to the growing numbers exposed to extreme weather events and earthquakes.

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