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close this bookEcology of Natural Disasters (Université Catholique de Louvain , 1971, 24 p.)
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View the documentProgramme
View the documentPoints proposed for discussion
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Michel F. Lechat

Natural disasters are by no means a new thing in the ecology of man. What is new is the increasing awareness that some kind of disasters' management should be possible.

In spite of the considerable efforts carried on by national and international bodies, both official and voluntary, for bringing prompt relief to disaster victims, there is a growing realization that such action falls far below expectation.

Each catastrophy, be it earthquake, typhoon or flood, makes it clearer that disasters cannot be dealt with by improvisation. The time has definitely come for a shift from post facto reaction to disaster to pre-disaster preparedness.

Planning for disaster goes from prevention, forecast and warning, to rescue, relief and rehabilitation. It requires that the whole context of disasters be studied.

There are many ways of looking at a disaster, and many more types of people involved in activities related to it: experts and managers, physicists and sociologists, medical men and meteorologists, politicians, volunteers, and even victims. This calls for a multidisciplinary approach.

If plans are to be efficient, the study of the complex system of disasters has to be task-oriented: what is a disaster doing to whom, and who is doing what to prevent or alleviate its effects?

The aim of the Brussels' seminar on natural disasters was to provide an opportunity for comparing problems and exchanging experiences both to those studying disasters in vivo, dealing with man, and those studying disasters in vitro, raising new ideas.

The topics selected for discussion were deliberately restricted in scope, dealing most particularly with the logistics of relief and the mechanism of international assistance.

The following reports reflect the thinking of a number of experienced individuals, both managers in charge of disaster relief and specialists in various fields related to disasters, meeting on a private basis for pointing out a number of problems or critical situations needing action or study.

This is no theory. This is a list of specific points where appropriate measures could be applied, which will result in the saving of lives.

It is hoped that these reports will provide suggestions to these in charge of making decisions, be it at the national of international level, in official and voluntary agencies