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close this bookDisaster Preparedness - 2nd Edition (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 1994, 66 p.)
close this folderPART 3 - Implementing disaster preparedness plans
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPromote the plan at the national level
View the documentEstablish a reliable information base
View the documentDefine appropriate institutional structures
View the documentConsider this advice
View the documentCASE STUDY
View the documentSUMMARY

Promote the plan at the national level

Many government officials will be skeptical about the benefits of disaster preparedness plans. Introducing the subject of disaster preparedness strategies or plans to government officials may elicit at least one of the following responses:

A tremendous idea! This is just the answer all who are concerned with disaster management want to hear. In reality, the respondent may have little idea of what such a plan entails. Even if this person appreciates the broad principles that are involved, he or she may become wary when the full range of necessary measures begins to unfold.

We need development, not disaster preparedness! A difficult argument to refute, particularly if an official assumes that the two are mutually exclusive. Ministries of finance and economic planning are often the most reluctant to dedicate time and funds to a proposal that seems tangential to their major concern of development. Focusing on development projects often reflects institutional success and generates considerable external assistance.

We already have one. Excellent, but what does the official mean? The government may have a designated disaster relief office in some back ministerial corridor. That one room and one officer hardly constitute an effective disaster preparedness plan. It is not an easy task to suggest that efforts which the government has made to date are not adequate.

We don’t need one. This response is usually followed by a description of the effective role played by national Red Cross or Red Crescent Societies in times of disasters; or the way the government handles these matters effectively on an ad hoc basis; or an explanation that the government has other priorities.

Q. Review the common reactions listed above. How would you respond to each of these reactions when promoting a disaster preparedness plan?




The text that follows the question contains three measures which could be part of your response.

Given these common responses, it is important to sensitize reluctant government officials to the virtues of disaster preparedness. A combination of the following measures may assist in the process.

Clarify essential points

There is no trade-off between disaster preparedness and development. The two are closely linked, conceptually and practically. An effective disaster preparedness strategy or plan will:

· Protect development. Disasters delay, or, in the worst case, destroy progress that has been made to date. An effective disaster preparedness plan should be integrated into the development process so that the former can protect the latter.

· Introduce disaster mitigation. Disaster mitigation measures such as safer buildings, “off-the-shelf” food-for-work programs or cash-for-work public works programs not only protect people and their assets, but also speed up the development process if they are adequately designed.

· Strengthen the local infrastructure. For example, the institutional and communications structure required in disaster preparedness necessarily strengthens the overall local infrastructure.

· Exert pressure on traditional aid donors. This may affect the overall amounts these donors allot to development. Conversely, donors are increasingly interested in spending resources on disaster preparedness measures. Many donors now realize that disaster preparedness is cost effective when compared to the price of emergency response.

Seeing is believing

For those government officials who doubt the overall value of disaster preparedness, organize study tours to countries where disaster preparedness plans (for example, China) and strategies (for example, India) have proven highly effective.

Organize conferences and workshops

If this stage is reached, there are converts already on the way. However, since a disaster preparedness plan will require the commitment of the government and relevant non-governmental organizations, conferences and workshops afford good opportunities to convince those in doubt.