Development opportunities afforded by disasters
Despite an increasing disaster awareness in the international
community, and the recognition of the importance of developing coherent plans
for relief activities, it often takes the actual or imminent occurrence of a
large-scale destructive event to stimulate individual governments to think about
a developmental approach. Thus, a disaster can serve as a catalyst for
introducing mitigation activities.
Few development workers realize the opportunities that disasters
can provide in the development field. Disasters often create a political and
economic atmosphere wherein extensive changes can be made more rapidly than
under normal circumstances. For example, in the aftermath of a disaster, there
may be major opportunities to execute land reform programmes, to improve the
overall housing stock, to create new jobs and job skills, and to expand and
modernize the economic base of the community - opportunities that would not
otherwise be possible. The collective will to take action is an advantage that
should not be wasted.
Disasters can also highlight high-risk areas where action must
be taken before another disaster strikes. The realization of vulnerability can
motivate policy-makers and the public to participate in mitigation activities.
Disasters may also serve to highlight the fact that the country is seriously
under-developed. They can thus bring in funding and the attention of donor
communities to apply to long-term development needs. (Henderson,