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close this bookDisaster Mitigation - 2nd Edition (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - Disaster Management Training Programme - United Nations Development Programme , 1994, 64 p.)
close this folderPart 2 - Actions to reduce risk
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentReducing hazard vs reducing vulnerability
View the documentTools, powers and budgets
View the documentCommunity-based mitigation
View the documentThe menu of mitigation actions
View the documentSUMMARY

Tools, powers and budgets

From the hazard profiles and the descriptions of actions that may be possible to reduce their effects, it is evident that protection is complex and needs to be built up through a range of activities undertaken at the same time. Protection cannot be simply provided by any single authority or agency. A government cannot provide housing that is wind-resistant for every citizen in cyclone-prone areas. Governments can and do, however, influence individuals towards protecting themselves and the rest of the community. Governments can employ a wide range of tools and use their powers in many ways to influence the safety of the community. Legislative powers, administrative functions, spending and project initiation are all tools they can employ to bring about change. Powers of persuasion are sometimes classified into two types: Passive and Active. These are summarized below.

Passive mitigation measures

Authorities prevent undesired actions through controls and penalties by:

Requirement to conform with design codes

Checking compliance of controls on-site

Imposing court proceedings, fines, closure orders on offenders

Control of land use

Denial of utilities and infrastructure to areas where development is undesired

Compulsory insurance

Requirements of passive control systems

a. An existing and enforceable system of control

b. Acceptance by the affected community of the objectives and the authority imposing the controls

c. The economic capability of the affected community to comply with the regulations.

Active mitigation measures

Authorities promote desired actions through incentives like:

Planning control dispensations

Training and education

Economic assistance (grants and preferential loans)

Subsidies on safety equipment, safer building materials, etc.

Provision of facilities: safer buildings, refuge points, storage

Public information dissemination and awareness raising

Promotion of voluntary insurance

Creation of community organizations

Active Programs

a. Aim to create a self-perpetuating safety culture in areas of weak authority or poor ability to comply with existing controls.

b. Require large budgets, skilled manpower and extensive administration.

c. Are useful in areas of low income, rural areas or elsewhere where there is no external jurisdiction over land use or building activity.

Safety standards, construction codes and building regulations form part of the normal apparatus that government use to help a community protect itself. One of the simplest measures for national authorities to take is to pass legislation for a national building code that requires new buildings and infrastructures to be resistant to the various hazards prevalent in that country. Some 40 earthquake-prone countries currently have seismic building codes for new construction. However, codes themselves are likely to have little effect unless the building designers are aware of them and understand them, and unless the community considers them necessary, and unless they are enforced by competent administrators.

There is no standard solution to mitigating a disaster risk.

The multiplicity of hazards and the different ways of reducing their various effects on the elements at risk is further compounded by the type of community powers and budgets available to the decision-makers. There is no standard solution to mitigating a disaster risk. The construction of large-scale engineering projects in Japan and other high-income countries to give protection against floods and volcanic debris flows, is not appropriate to mitigating similar hazards in developing countries. The enforcement of town planning regulations, and what is considered an acceptable level of interference by an authority on individual's right to build, varies considerably from one country to another, it varies from rural to urban situations and from one community and culture to the next.

The prohibition of building houses on hazardous slopes may seem sensible but is unenforceable in cities where economic pressures to locate on such locations outstrip concerns of illegality. The right of a municipal engineer to inspect the seismic resistance of a building under construction may be accepted in major cities of a country but would be objected to in the more remote villages of the same province.

Q. A distinction is made in the text between passive and active mitigation measures. What are the arguments for using active measures over passive ones? Does this hold true for your community and the hazards that you expect might occur there?




Although they may cost more to initiate, active measures may produce better results in some communities because they:

tend to promote a self-perpetuating safety culture

do not rely on the economic capability of the affected community

do not rely on the ability of the local authorities to enforce controls