What is disaster management? Disasters are consequences of unidentified and inappropriately managed risks and are identified as product of hazards and vulnerabilities. For instance, hazards that strike in areas with low vulnerability are not necessarily responded to or considered a disaster as is the case in inhabited regions.
Modernity, Risks and Disasters
Developing countries suffer the greatest costs when disaster hits them than in industrialised countries. What they lack is perhaps a modern research approach with outcomes that have disaster management plan for and subsequently alleviating natural disasters prior to their occurrence.
The first step towards controlling these destructions caused by disasters is sensitization as regards the response strategy when disaster strikes.
Disasters are more likely when there is less or absolutely no emergency preparedness plan or there are zero or minimal mitigating measures in place. Within the context of informal settlements, there exists a myriad of possible disasters in the waiting especially around the volatile settlements that are well aware of the disasters, but juggle around them (possible disasters) on a daily basis.
One-off projects like the Kibera Slum Upgrading Program (KENSUP) by the government and UN Habitat to cater for housing needs and the lack of an effective land policy and poor urban governance has further exacerbated these conditions; and is further aggravated by the absence of structure prioritized approaches and organized community frames for accessing credit for housing and related services such as health and sanitation. Such a framework could also provide for an opportunity to effectively and efficiently enhance capacity of the community for organized self-governance and collective decision-making on a common risk and priority platform.
The populace must realise they too have a magnanimous role to play – pre, during and post disasters. The government and Communities should jointly come up with preparedness mechanisms and systems aimed at disaster alleviation and risk management.
Is there a pragmatic way ahead?
Projects and initiatives focusing on the underlying causes of disaster outbreaks must address the issues of proper governance and dignified livelihoods aimed at creating proper living environments and standards devoid of natural or man-made risks especially for the poor and marginalized. Campaigns aimed at alleviation and control of disasters must in addition to good governance address the issues of unstructured developments, diminishing space, resource allocation (both national and county government).
Although additional hardware is required, the challenge in creating an information collection mechanism through local structures lies in capacity-building that should be integrated with longer-term activities, and should recognize the impact of disasters on the livelihoods and activities that the actors/locals undertake.
As disasters cause communities to more than often depend on the government and development partners towards setting up new livelihoods, parallel support must be given to address the capacity constraints the locals undergo. Genuine emergency preparedness must take place away from periods of crisis since local actors complete the primary emergency response outfits.
Interventions by stakeholders should empower the community and preventive measures adopted towards alleviating potential disasters as opposed to have reactive responses after the occurrence of a disaster.
The developing countries have shed little light on disaster management and preparedness. While this has to start from the school level, there needs to be a major role played on a larger scale involving the communities and the governments at large. Technical know-how and measures to resist the calamities should should be both adopted by those lacking the knowledge while the knower fully equipped must be able to dispense them to alleviate the conditions.