|IDNDR - Informs - Number 03, October - December 1993 (IDNDR-DIRDN, 1993)|
CLAUDIA CANDANEDO Scientific and Technical Committee-member, IDNDR, Panama.
One objective of the entire planning process is to improve living conditions for the population. Natural disasters generally have a strong negative impact on the quality of life in affected communities. Human victims, damage to infrastructure, crops, homes, factories, and the interruption of normal functioning of daily life are all effects of these phenomena. Insofar, as less-developed countries are the most vulnerable, we are presented with an imperative: to integrate the concepts of disaster prevention with national and local planning.
To these ends it is fundamental to show all levels of decision-makers, from legislators to public and private administrators, how economically beneficial it is to invest in means of reducing the risk of loss of life and property.
Our countries lack complete statistics about the distribution of losses when disaster hits. This makes it even more difficult to establish a cost-benefit relation for disaster reduction efforts.
Another aspect to consider is that in developing countries, the negative consequences of natural disasters fall principally on the informal production sector. This further complicates the task of quantifying negative economic effects.
However, experiences of many developed countries illustrate the benefits of prevention.
Daily human activities can bear adverse consequences that often qualify as "natural disasters". We know that many development projects actually increase vulnerability or hasten a damaging natural phenomenon, but they present an opportunity to reduce risk as well.
In all our decisions, we should not lose sight of the fact that strategies for rebuilding after a disaster should incorporate prevention measures and integrate risk reduction into the development process.
It is of utmost importance to integrate disaster prevention into national and local planning processes.