BIG DATA ON NEED TO SAVE ENVIRONMENT

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‘Mother Earth’ was created may be around 4.54 billions years ago and today, we humans are in the process of creating its annihilation news.  Change in the global climate is a proven fact and  we are not heading in the right direction. Environment may not affect us directly now, but natural catastrophes do. Continuous cutting down of forests and dumping of pollutants in water bodies is a major cause for rising temperatures and call for an environmental disaster.
For all these billion years, this environment has provided us, food to eat, clothes to warp, clean water to drink and air to breathe. Humans have only taken its resources and have not sufficiently given back. Today I wonder, if our future generations will ever see clear sky, breathe pollution free air and drink clean water. I will not be surprised; if our future generations could only see forests in there digital tablets and may not observe the same in real life. The coming years do have a great scope for technological advancement and vast job opportunities in areas, which uses more resources from the environment only to exhaust and call our own doomsday.
Though chances are rare, have you felt the fresh air when you wake up early morning, have you ever watched those birds fly in that clear sky, have you ever seen the clear stream flowing in its own rhythm, have you ever seen those birds chirping from the forests these days? Imagine if all this vanishes one day and we have to go to a shop and ask for oxygen cylinders as we buy mineral water!
Go to any university and you may see that there are lesser students taking environmental studies as a course curriculum, as most think that it might not provide much monetary value as a career like other job courses. Most of us are not so much eager to know about our surroundings and hence we understand issues about environment less and provide more importance to technologies which ultimately destroys human’s very existence. Long back when I enrolled a course in Masters in Environmental Sciences from Bangalore University, many asked about the future in monetary terms. To them I replied that ENVIRONMENT is in itself the future for human’s existence and that it’s more about the passion to make our world green than about earning money. Today, there are openings in various Government, academic and non-Government organizations on environment.
Saving our environment can only be a reality, if we maintain a balance. Environmental Studies helped us to understand that we need to keep a balance and that we need to find some sustainable approach to keep a balance. The approach should be in areas concerning water, land, food and the air we breathe. All these are the basics of human survival. Let us take the example of water. It’s not the simple expansion of irrigation. It had an ecological and social dimension as well and was the key to rural transformation. Providing a limited but assured quantity of water to all urban households irrespective of their landholding is the key for water conservation. Now, to serve such dispersed need, the systems required had to be entirely different – technologically and socially. The population of the world tripled in the 20th century and now the use of renewable resources have grown six fold. Within the next fifty years the World population will increase by 40%-50%. Now this population growth coupled with industrialization and urbanization will result in an increasing demand of water and will have serious consequences in the environment.
Already there is more waste water generated and dispersed than at any other time in the history of our planet: more than one out of six people lack access to safe drinking water, namely 1.1 billion people and more than two out of six lack adequate sanitation, namely 2.6 billion people (Estimation for 2002, by the WHO/UNICEF JMP, 2004). One must know that these figures represent only people with very poor conditions.
Less availability of water leads to water stress. Water stress results from an imbalance between water use and water resources. The depleting resource leads to many tensions over neighbour’s, communities, districts, states and countries. So, it is a real fact that there is a water crisis today.
With this current state of affairs, correcting measures still can be taken to avoid the crisis to be worsening. There is an increasing awareness that our freshwater resources are limited and need to be protected both in terms of quantity and quality. This water challenge affects not only the water community, but also decision-makers and every human being. “Water is everybody’s business” was one the key messages of the 2nd World Water Forum.
We have the power to change our Earth in our own ways, if only we join hands. Let’s plant trees and let’s close all our water outlets when not in use. The Earth is our Home and let’s save it. Let’s Dream for a more Safer and Greener World for us as well as for our future generations.

The Above are my Personal Views:
Mr. Mainak Majumdar
(The writer is winner of two Gold Medals in Masters in Environmental Science and for last twelve years has been associated with assignments on Developmental Initiatives, Disaster Management and Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives in National Level)
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TSUNAMI DUE TO EARTHQUAKES: NEED FOR DISASTER (CHEMICAL/NATURAL) MANAGEMENT

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Tsunami’s due to Earthquakes are very dangerous. A few steps can save your life. The given list is of personal advise/suggestions. Please check with Local Disaster Management Authorities for any eventuality:

BEFORE:

1. Find out if your home is in a danger zone. Know the height of your street above sea level and distance of your street from the coast. The Evacuation orders refer to these points.

2. Please be familiar with the Tsunami warning signs as this can be caused by an underwater disturbance or an earthquake.

3. People living along the coast, should take this signs as a warning signal.

4. A noticeable rapid rise or fall in coastal waters is also a sign that a Tsunami is approaching.

5. Make sure that all your family members know how to respond to a tsunami.

Prepare evacuation plans much early; don’t take chances in case of emergencies. A few seconds of delay can take your life.

6. Please keep all the disaster supplies on hand, like first aid box, flash light and extra batteries Also keep all your important documents along with your insurance policies in a bag, so that while evacuating, you can take those with you.

7. Develop your own emergency communication plan. Incase family members are separated from one another during a tsunami (A very real possibility as you can be in work and your children might be at home), have a plan of getting back together.

8. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “Family Contact”

9. In case of emergency, please call the Disaster Management Authority of your respective Government or the Red Cross or your local disaster management office.

DURING:

1. Please listen to the Radio to get the latest emergency information. Keep portable radios in

case of emergencies.

2. If you hear an official tsunami warning or detect signs of a tsunami, evacuate at once.

3. Climb to a higher ground as early as possible.

4. Remember that a tsunami warning is issued, when the authorities are almost sure that a tsunami may happen. So, please don’t take chances.

5.  Stay away from the beach. Never go to the beach to see a tsunami coming.

6. Return home only when the authorities advise you to do so.

7. Do not assume that one wave means that the danger is over. The next wave may be larger than the first one. Stay out of the area.

AFTER:

1. Stay tuned to a battery-operated radio for the latest emergency information. Help the injured or trapped persons.

2. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Please call for help.

3. Do remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance- infants, elderly people and people with disabilities. Please stay away from damaged buildings.

4. Do return home, when authorities instruct you to do so. Enter your home with lot of concern.

5. Check for electric short circuits and live wires. Please do not use appliances or lights until an electrician has checked the electrical system and open windows and doors to help dry the building.

6. Check for also gas leaks if any- if you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building.

7. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you have turned off the gas, the gas should be turned on by a professional.

8. Check for sewage and waterlines damages.

9. Please also call the water company, if your water line is damaged.

After all these, I just want to say, that please don’t panick. Follow the rules and you will be fine. After all, there is so many agencies as well as your Respective Government to take care of you. So, have faith in God and you will be safe…

Mainak Majumdar
Disaster Management Specialist and Writer
Website:  http://www.theideas.in/ 

NEED FOR DISASTER MANAGEMENT, BASIC RESEARCH AND EARTHQUAKE MANAGEMENT

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When one thinks of Disasters, it naturally crosses one’s mind if only it had been averted. Disasters are by their very nature unpredictable and happen inspite of the best efforts. It appears to be so sudden and powerful that one attributes it to ones fate. This is what make each of the disasters remarkable and larger than life. Even though all precautions are taken, yet they happen and the sheer ferocity of their occurrence brings terror to one’s heart. It is hard to believe that except for a chance event of the affected people being part of the disaster, they might very well be alive.

The scene of the disaster is heart-rending and what comes to mind is the horror of what happened and one is compelled to feel sorrow for the victims of the disasters.Whether it is the Hurricane Katrina, Wilma, Recent Earthquake in India, Tsunamis, Chernobyl Nuclear Tragedy, Bhopal Gas Tragedy (India), Hurricane Andrew 1992, cyclone at Darwin Australia (1974) etc; each of the disaster has a unique story to tell: if only it could have been avoided and here lies the importance of pre-disaster management policy.

Some times our stereotypical attitudes and lack of proper policy implementation often leads to failure to recognize THAT RELIEF AND DEVELOPMENT are inextricably linked and part of the same on-going process. It is now being acknowledged that disasters an wipe out years of development and can dramatically increase vulnerability An increasing number of Governments and International Organizations are promoting risk reduction as the only sustainable solution for reducing the Social, Economical and Environmental impacts of disasters. Risk Reduction strategies includes vulnerability mapping identification of areas that are safe for settlement and development adoption of building codes based on disaster resilient engineering and on local hazard risk assessments and enforcing these plans and codes by economic and other incentives.

I want to stress on the points of local capacities and pre-disaster management to safeguard the precious lives of our brothers and sisters of my planet. One of the most important of these concerns is to build local capacities. The rationale here is based on recognition that local communities have developed their own, indigenous, preparedness and mitigation activities based on their extensive experiences of living with disasters. (All too often in the past, these have been overlooked or undervalued by Disaster Management Specialists from Outside)

Let me give some examples:

In India, one tribal group living in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands understood the coming of the arrival of the slayer Tsunami and fled to a safer place long before the killer waves would have engulfed them. An art of their own, passed from generations to generations. In Africa, there are a lot of food shortages due to drought; but they are able to prevent full blown famine by employing a variety of ‘coping’ mechanisms that allow them to ride out the hungry season until the next harvest. Also I believe that successful disaster prevention depends partly upon being able to predict these crisis before they happen. Though Disasters happen with great regularity, I believe that we should do research as how to stop these natural calamities rather than forecasting it’s arrival.

To that effect, we should stress the need for natural barriers for cyclones and hurricanes, rainwater harvesting methods for continuous supply of water even in the driest seasons, concepts on recharging of groundwater in the driest part of the world. Stressing the need to use methods for liberation of energy from the faults in the earth-strata, so that the release of the enormous energy from the bottom of the earth will stop earthquakes happening! Also we should stress on the afforestation initiatives in catchment areas basins.

I believe this basic research can enable us to understand the water-soil-climate system better. This can lead to new thinking and new avenues of action, which can yield larger stable production within the existing constraints.

The effort spent in basic research and the policies obtained from those pays for it many times over, though not necessarily immediately.

I do believe that you will definitely find this website ( http://www.naturaldisastermanagement.com ) interesting. We would request you to send your views and suggestions by filling our ‘Contact Us’ form.

The views given above are personal.

Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Writer

Website:   http://www.theideas.in/

REMEMBERING THE ‘TSUNAMI’: NEED FOR DISASTER MANAGEMENT

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Nature rules us all. The bountiful nature that sustains the entire living world on our planet has a furious face as well. Traumatized by the towering waves of Tsunami – the most savage force of nature – that hit the South-East Asian Coastlines, humankind is reminded of it’s helplessness in the face of Nature’s fury, although timely warning of such unstoppable disasters can surely help in lessening the overall devastation.

Have you ever imagined gigantic sea waves, moving nearly at the speed of a jet plane, appearing without a warning and hitting the coastlines like a ‘water bomb’. Loaded with enormous energy, the killer waves wreck havoc by flooding several kilometers inland, as they flatten houses and wipe out villages, uproot electric poles, throw cars into swirling waters and toss boats ashore all in a mad furry and finally, drag thousands of hapless victims out to the Sea as they recede. Sounds of pathetic wails engulf the area as loved ones are separated from each other and some forever… Leaving a trail of total destruction, the ruinous waves simply spell disaster. Unfortunately, this is not a scene from a horror movie but is a real life happening.

This natural disaster, known as ‘tsunami’ (soo-NAH-mee) – a destructive, ocean-riding wave created by an undersea disturbance – struck the coastal areas of South-East Asia in the early hours of Sunday, 26th December, 2004. Caught unware by the waves of doom by the fury of sea waves were scores of human lives and suddenly as the hell broke loose, the beautiful beaches brimming with life a few hours ago, transformed into graveyards with dead bodies lying amid torn fishing nets, smashed boats and debris strewn all around.

Millions suffered the terrifying burnt of the assault while thousands of people died an unnatural death. The worst hit nation is Indonesia where a staggering one lakh are estimated to have perished in the wake of this mammoth devastation. Sri Lanka was also hit very brutally by tsunami; as the death toll has been about 31,000 in this island nation.

Tsunami is a Japanese word represented by two characters; tsu and nami. The character tsu means ‘harbour’ while the character nami means ‘wave’. Most tsunami is occured in the Pacific Ocean. Some deadliest Tsunamis are: November 1st, 1755 (Lisbon, Portugal and much of Europe) killed 60,000 people. August 27th, 1883: Eruptions from the Krakatoa volcano fueled a tsunami; killing 36,000 people. June15th, 1896: Sea waves as high as 30 meters, spawned by an earthquake , which swept the east coast of Japan killing 27,000 people. March 27th, 1964: known as ‘Alaskan Good Friday’ earthquake that measured 8.4 on Ricter Scale, generated a tsunami and killed many people in Cresent City, northern California. July17th, 1998 an earthquake of magnitude 7.1 generated a Tsunami in Papua New Guinea that killed 2,200 people.

Though Tsunami’s are often referred to as tidal waves but this is incorrect as tides can also happen due to gravitational influences of the Moon, Sun, and Planets. A point to note is that tsunami’s are not always due to ‘Seismic sea waves’, as they may also be generated due to landslides, volcanic eruptions and quite rarely by the import of a large meteorite falling in the Ocean.

The Asian toll took over 1,50,000 lives, the death toll in India rose to 9,451 by January 2nd, 2005 with 5,511 persons missing. The number of deaths stood at 812 in the Andaman and Nicober Islands, 574 in Pondicherry, 166 in Kerala and 106 in Andhra Pradesh. Around 5,421 were missing in the case of Andaman and Nicober Islands; out of this; 4,657 were missing from Katchal Islands alone. An estimated 10,000 people are said to have died in the Nicober group of islands. The islands were badly hit, both, beacuse of their proximity to the epicentre of the earthquake and the fact that the tectonic activity actually led to the subsidence of the islands. Great Nicober, the southern most island in the group is about 150 km from the epicentre at Banda Aceh in Sumatra in Indonesia. A good indicator is the fact that the light house at Indira Point, the southernmost tip of Great Nicober Island, now stands in the ocean waters, when earlier it was at least about 100 metres inland from the high tide line.

In the first few days of the tragedy, little was known of the destruction that had occured further South in the Central Nicober group comprising the inhabitated islands of Nancowry, Camorta, Katchal, Trinket, Chowra, Peressa and Bompoka and the Southern group where there were human population on Great Nicober, Little Nicober, Pilomilo and kondul. The worst hit region by the Tsunami was Indonesia, which lost more lives than any other country. Dozens of bloated bodies littered the streets of Banda Aceh city as soldiers and desperate relatives searched for survivors of the earthquake and tidal waves. Several hundred bodies collected by the emergency workers lay under plastic tents and rotting on December 27th, 2004. Dozens of bodies were laid in ruins in Banda Aceh, capital of Aceh province. In sumatra a million people were left homeless. Villagers in Sunadon district were picked through the debris of their ruined houses amid the smell of decomposing bodies. Atleast 4,491 persons were killed on Sumatra island and on Nais, an isolated island that lies west of Sumatra. So, apart from India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, countries affected are Thailand, Malaysia, Somalia and Maldives.

The titanic tsunami that wrought unprecented death and destruction in South and South-east Asia will go down in history as one of the greatest natural calamities of modern times.

The Titanic Tsunami that wrought unprecedented death and destruction in South and South-East Asia will go down in history as one of the greatest natural calamities of modern times. The great disaster caught the people and the Government off guard and in a matter of minutes, snuffed out more than 1,50,000 lives across more than twelve countries. The number of people rendered homeless might run into millions as no estimate is immediately available as to how many children have become orphans or how many women have become widows and how many families have been wiped out in a single sweep. The biggest ever International relief operation was on; as the fear of an epidemic loomed large.

The catastrophe spawned by tsunami once gain underscored the need for a well-planned disaster management; it did show that we are totally ill-prepared to cope up with such kind of crisis, natural or man-made.

Years passed but still that old question comes to my mind; Are we ready for another Tsunami?” If History repeats itself; shall again our brothers and sisters have to meet the same fate, which was faced by the people on 26th December, 2004?”

The enormity of the tragedy that overtook South Asia would have been eased the countries had a good international warning system and good awareness programs about the do’s and don’ts in the fall out of a deadly disaster (Pre-disaster management policies).

The Department of Space, India have already established more than 250 cyclone warning receivers that can be activated via satellite; all these is very useful for tsunami warning. more such receivers is the need of the time. The time has also come to stress on community education keeping along with the disaster management theme of this year that “disaster Management” should begin at School. This will enable the people to know exactly what they should do; when the warning is sounded.

Disasters like cyclones, droughts, floods, earthquakes, Tsunamis and now biological and along with man-made tragedies along with communal riots due to race, ethnicity or religion is leading to Social disasters, may become burning issues in the years to come. We have to join hands to stop it happening and celebrate with the true spirit of humanity to make a disaser free world for us as well as for our future generations.

So, what is required is a comprehensive blueprint as to how to cope with such crisis in both the short-term and long-term manner. There need to have good mass awareness programs stressing the importance of pre-disaster management policies; along with that there needs to be social, physical, emotional or physcological and economic rehabilitation in the wake of a massive disaster. Ever step need to be taken to help the victims forget for ever, the trauma they have taken gone through.
Its true that this is not an easy task.

The orphans need a home and parents who can adopt them. Most of the victims have to start life a fresh begining with a new home and a new vocation. Its a gigantic task where the fortunate ones who have escaped the fury of nature must contribute their mite so that the calamity struck brethen must feel that there are others who care for them.

Lastly I just want to stress on the point that It’s not the Government agencies alone, but every citizen must act to help others in distress.

Thanks a lot for taking your time and reading this article. Please ‘Sign in’ at the Guestbook and place your views. Lets join hands to make a better world for us; as well as for our future generations.

Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Writer

Website:   http://www.theideas.in/

1900 STORM AND NEED FOR CYCLONE SHELTERS

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A daily newspaper reporter in 1900 said the story of September 8, 1900, hurricane could never be truly written. This story will ever remain memorable in the minds of the people then living along the coasts of the city. The story would definitely again remind us the horror of what can happen , when the winds blow and the tides rise along the coasts of a country. These stories and many more is giving rise to the concepts of Cyclone Shelters.The tale of death, devastation and eventual recovery is close to he hearts of Galvestonians. And as it’s stories are passed on again, the 1900 storm will become part of the history of another generation.

If people says that they had family who had died or survived the storm, there is no doubt that they are referring to a family history that goes back more than 100 years.

In the years before the great storm of Sep 8, 1900, Galveston had grown from a small settlement on the texas coast into one of the wealthiest cities in the country. There were natural deep water channel, which made Galveston the most important seaport in Terxas. Trains carried cargo to and from the port, and ships travelled across the seas. In fact almost more than 70 percent of the country’s cotton crop at that time passed through the port of Galveston, and some 1000 ships called on the port annually.

The shallow waters made it easy for bathers to wade safely several yards offshore and enjoy what was considered to be a therapeutic bathing in the Gulf. But the storm left behind a legacy that extends across the country. As families moved from the island, they carried with them the story of that night. The city was home to about 37,000 people.

It was September 8th, 1900, when the waters began to rise in the morning. Children played in flood waters, which began as early as dawn. when cline then chief meterologist of the US weather Service Station in Galveston, began his observations and he noticed Gulf water creeping over the low ends of the island. According to his memoirs, he knew at that moment of impending danger. He rode up and down the beach and urged the visitors of the coming danger. Some facts which were stunning are :

In 1900, higher ground was a relative term. The highest house in the city was at an elevation between 8 and 9 feet. Till today, we even do not know, if the coastal areas have houses at a minimum elevation. I think the answer is negative. If “Yes”, then i do not think that ‘Tsunami’, could have created such a havoc on the Java, sumatra and Indian Coasts.

But even Cline’s warning proved fruitless as the night approached. By the peak of the storm, no part of the island remained dry. It was estimated that the wind speed exceeded 120 miles per hour, according to Cline. But today with modern techniques it is found out that the wind must have been between 130 – 140 miles per hour to produce the extreme tide and storm surge of the 1900.

The 15 1/2 – foot storm surge rolled over the island from gulf to bay. Houses collapsed, and as the surge continued, a wall of debris described as at least two – stories high pushed across the island. The wall destroyed everything in it’s path, building force as it moves across the island. Pictures taken after the storm show empty streets. No people. No animals. No personal belongings. Only piles of debris that buried families beneath the remains of their homes. Bodies occasionally hang outside the debris piles. But for most part, an eerie emptiness paints a picture few words could describe.

The stench of decaying bodies and of fish and other animals rotting in the streets is unimaginable. For all practical purposes, the island was destroyed that night.

While no one wants to imagine a storm that could match the strength and lasting effects of that one, any future storm, no matter its devastation, will be compared to be the benchmark of Texas Storm – The Great Storm of September 8, 1900, in which six thousand died and thirty thousand  survived to tell the story and rebuild the city. 

Thanks and Regards,

Mainak Majumdar, Specialist Disaster Management

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

NATURAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND NEED FOR PLANNING PROCESS

Disaster Management is a combination of environmental, developmental and social issues coupled with administrative directives, operational skills of an organization and its capacities to implement those to lessen the adverse effects of an emergency. The other important constituent of risk management is precise information flow which in itself is a form of disaster response in its own right.

May it be a Mexican Earthquake or an 8.7 earth shattering phenomenon at the city of Banda Aceh or the northern tip of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island or Chile or Haiti Earthquake, which leads to eradication of hundreds of lives.
Seismic activities occur everywhere and coupled with floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, drought & landslides, they compose a complete chronicle of human destruction. The challenges seem to be more and but it also provides saving options. The risks faced due to any environmental disaster are not only due to losses in lives, environment, health status, livelihoods and assets but also for the services that could occur in a particular community or a society over some specified future time period.
Environmental Calamity Management is a highly complex problem and has diverse manifestations. It is a phenomenon which affects people in different ways and is the result of social, cultural, economic and political factors. It is to be noted that all crises do not give rise to emergencies and the radical changes do not mean that it is always in negative.
The vision of the policy makers should be to assist the vulnerable and poor people to bring about positive change and to support their capacity to withstand adverse changes that may affect their social and economic developments. The changes should be made after proper judgment as any changes for the vulnerable people or the communities may give rise to a crisis that may overpower their capacity to cope and hence is an uncalled emergency. Crisis is not only about this unexpected catastrophe but also the sum-up of this slow build-up of political, social, economic and environmental factors. Along with all these issues, there is a combination of unexpected incident such as cyclone, flood, earthquake, drought or any other type of major accidents, which would definitely add to these changes in a very negative way. Hence, it is critical that relief interventions addresses these issue which are the standing parameters for a crisis and which leads to Environmental Catastrophes.
It is this inequity and poverty, which make people more vulnerable to the effects of Natural and Industrial Hazards. It is a well known fact that Natural Resources are divided into two categories, renewable and non-renewable sources of energy. Human Beings would never lack vital materials if he/she would adjust his population size and resource demands at or below the level that allows the biogeochemical cycles to operate in such a way that materials as well as organizations are “reassembled” as fast they are “dispersed”. The shift from “special interest conservation” to “total ecosystem conservation” helps to establish the fact that human beings are a part of a complex environment which must be studied, treated and modified as a whole and not on the basis of isolated “projects”. Hence there is a need to take cautions while tampering with the Environment with lakes to draining, fillings, dredging, pollutions, stabilizations, mosquito control, algae control and the planting of any fish, which are able to swim. It is we humans, who constrict them with levees and dams and then flush them with dredging, channelizations and floods and silt of bad farming.
The other most important factor is proper flow of information. Responding to the Indian Ocean Tsunami Aid Agencies distributed remarkable amounts of relief aid. But despite this, some needy groups were missed. In some cases, aid went to men and the specific needs of women were not met. In others, aid went to dominant social groups, sidelining tribal people and outcastes. Information about them was lacking.
The obvious questions are: Does the people in a disaster stricken area get enough information? Do they receive the caution before a natural disaster? Do the people of a country have the power to involve themselves in management of environmental disasters?
In a disaster area, there are different types of information: It includes everything from facts to deep understanding & may include lies and deception. It should be kept in mind that gathering data is a one-way process. If one has to acquire knowledge and wisdom, we need to involve and exchange ideas and analyze those in the light of experience, through discussion and interviews or multiple channels of communication.
If the disaster victim can recognize an aid agency’s capacity and viewpoints, they can give better advice as how to help them. It is the dialogue than the data that matters.
If we analyze the intensity of a cyclone & its destruction, the deaths and damages caused, it would indicate very diverse co-relationship between the economic leader of the countries and the actual loss of the communities. One of the deadliest cyclones- the cyclone Bhola of 1970 in East Pakistan was classified as Category III (maximum wind speed 205 km) and it killed three hundred thousand people while the economic loss was estimated at US$ 86.4 million.
If we go back to 2004’s hurricane season at Cuba, the country proved again how effective it is in protecting human life from the worst disaster. It was Hurricane Charley which swept into Cuba on 13th August 2004 where 70,000 houses were severely destroyed and four people died. When hurricane Ivan came to the coastline of Cuba, with greater force, over 2 million people were evacuated but none of them lost their lives.
So, how does Cuba do wonders and save lives from the clutches of such horrible hurricanes?
They overpower natural catastrophes as they take Disaster Management in a broader sense addressing issues and policies related to environmental sustainability, social sustainability, information flow and channelization of those in masses and also focus on needs for good quality education in environmental disaster management.
In Cuba, evacuation orders are mandatory – an important distinction from other neighboring countries. Public transport is provided to get people to shelters. Local branches of Federation of Cuban Women help and persuade reluctant people to accept evacuation, so it is rare that the police or army has to step in.
There is a need to ensure that disaster mitigation efforts are not just top to down and is rather based on direct information from the communities.
Risk Mapping is about consideration of direct link from the environmental factors, logical responses and changing pattern of tensions and relationships. Social division and inequality effect risks and its management. Hence there is a need to develop a methodology for analyzing conflict, which should be based on drawing up ‘maps’ of causes and can be superimposed on a similar map of responses.
The next factor is Environmental Sustainability. When the human population of an area is small, poor land use may affect only the people who are guilty of bad judgment. As the population increases, everyone suffers if land is improperly used because everyone eventually pays for rehabilitation or is now too often the case; everyone suffers a permanent loss of resources. A small example is if grasslands in low regions are plowed up and planted to wheat (poor land use), a “dust bowl” or temporary desert will sooner or later be a result. If the grass cover is maintained and moderately grazed (good land use), no dust bowl will likely to be developed. It is a general observance that good land use planning has come only after human has first destroyed or damaged a landscape. It is just as the saying goes that Human does not seem to understand a system which he did not build and therefore he seemingly must partially destroy and rebuild before use limitations are understood.
One solution to these problems are:
i) Cluster development: A cluster development of residential housing around village or town centers with each unit separated by broad green belts.
ii) By retaining stream valleys, steep slopes, lakes, marshes, aquifer recharge areas, waste disposal areas free from houses, buildings, and other high density uses. Without such planning, there might be no open space, and which would lead to the same kind of urban blight, chronic pollution and social disorder that we now observe in older, unplanned cities.
Generally, the short term profits that can be made by exploiting urban land are so huge that it is difficult for people to foresee the socio-ecologic backlashes and overshoots that accompany uncontrolled growth.
With the increase in population, food supplies will reduce resulting in increasing prices.
In other words, the size and quality of the “environmental house” should be an important consideration and not the number of resources; we can relentlessly squeeze from the earth. A reasonable goal could be to stress on the fact that a third of all land could be under open space use. The dependence of a city on the countryside for all its vital resources (food, water, air and so on) and the dependence of the country on the city for economic resources become so widely recognized that the present political confrontation that exists between the rural and urban populations is obliterated.
The next obvious aspects are creation of Sustainable Livelihoods. The real basis for assessing the appropriateness of any type of intervention is an understanding of livelihood systems and the strategies in which people are already engaged, the problems which they face and the ways in which they are adapting to changing environmental and economic conditions. The notion of “livelihood” systems” takes into account the wide range of people’s roles, activities, personal capacities and resources, which make up the way they make a living; and how these elements are related to each other.
It is here comes the concept of serving the poor profitability. These are the people who have great needs, but they can’t express their requirements in a way which may matter to markets. Markets seem to avoid the needs as it doesn’t bring profit and hence poor always tend to remain poorer. It is where Government and corporate houses comes into play and try to make a difference. But today Corporate Social Responsibility seemed to break that ‘tax free’ attitude and has come for the betterment of the World as more World Business Leaders tries to come forward with their aim to improve the smaller parts of the globe where their presence is felt.
Hence the ways forward are:
a) Recognize that Environmental Sustainability is a must for containing a Disaster
b) Recognize that Social Sustainability along with development is necessary for good Risk Reduction
c) Recognize information as a form of disaster response in its own right
d) Support better access to information and communications along with technology for vulnerable communities
e) Build a partnership for sharing information with communities, local governments, media, telephone companies and Industries.
f) Women and men of all ages from disaster affected areas and wider local populations, including vulnerable groups should receive information about the assistance programme and are given the opportunity to comment to the assistance agency during all stages.
Its then we could save many number of human lives with minimum causalities.

Please send your feedback in the e-mail address given below.
Thanks and Regards,
Mainak Majumdar
Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

DISASTER MANAGEMENT

wish91

September 11 attacks or the spread of Anthrax or the rising fear of a Nuclear Disaster, the emergence of the term Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Disaster (CBRN) is becoming a challenging issue infront of Governments of the World. Central to such preparation and response planning are the roles of districts, states, local -self Governments, National Government Departments, which includes activities ranging from global intelligence gathering to local emergency response. Beginning in the mid-1990s and accelerating rapidly since September 2001, all levels of Government have focused on improving their capabilities to foresee, intercept, prepare for and respond to these CBRN disasters.

Many Government Agencies, non-governmental organizations and individuals charged with emergency preparedness, response and management are being encouraged all over the World to intricate emergency Plans into training, education and public awareness campaigns. These days, Governments and Industries are enabling themselves to co-operate and find solutions to this blazing problem.

CBRN is an initiation for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear disaster. The term is used worldwide to refer to incidents or weapons in which any of these four hazards have presented them. In the fifties the expression ABC (Atomic, Biological and Chemical) was in use and was modified during the cold war to NBC (Nuclear, biological and chemical). Later the term R (radiological) was introduced as a consequence of the “new” threat radiological weapon (also known as the “poor man’s atomic bomb). CBRN agents are commonly referred as weapons of mass destruction. A wide range of these agents are available, but there are problems related to their manufacture, storage and disposal.

A CBR device functions by wind dispersal. During that instance the evacuation of people and control of ventilation turn out to be a main concern. The methods that are followed are prevention, detection, preparedness and response. Justifiably in order to protect the populace from any eventualities of CBRN attacks, there is a requirement of co-ordination between various Government agencies, Industries, Non-governmental organizations and departments like transport, home, environment, health etc, which would work in close cooperation as an assistance provider to the civilian authorities. There are two main issues, which in the intervening time have increased the risk of CBRN viz. trafficking and dual-use nature of CBRN materials. Hence there is a need for a number of national and multilateral legal instruments to come forward to stop the access of CBRN materials as pillars of prevention and agree to a uniform policy package on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) security. The world needs to have all necessary tools at hand to counteract this menace and spread awareness about the grave nature of CBRN threat. There is a requirement for discussion on these issues with proper documents prepared and adopted by various institutions as well as the National Government to present the Indian endeavor to address risks of CBRN disaster.

Chemical, Biological and Nuclear emergencies having potential of becoming a disaster may occur due to accidental spill, terrorism activities as well as use of chemical and nuclear warfare agents. It is difficult to predict when such activities will occur or whether the target will be military or a civilian unit. It has been observed in past that it occurred when it was least expected. In some countries the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has been identified as the nodal agency in the country in respect of human made radiological emergencies in the public domain. For example, a Crisis Management Group (CMG) has been functioning since 1987 in DAE, India. In the event of any radiological or nuclear emergency in the public domain, the CMG is immediately activated and will co-ordinate between the local authority in the affected area and the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC). The CMG comprises of senior officials drawn from various units of DAE like the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL), Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Heavy Water Board (HWB) and the Directorate of Purchase and Stores (DP&S). It also includes senior officials from the regulatory authority and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).

In general chemical and biological agents are considered to be cheaper and easier to produce. Radioactive materials that could be used for such contamination are available from a wide range of relatively non-secure facilities, including hospitals, medical and research laboratories, universities, waste dumps and so forth. The use of biological weapons become more eminent as apart from the natural transnational movement of these pathogenic organisms, their potential use as biological warfare and bio-terrorism has become far more important now than ever before. Small Pox and Anthrax are the most common agents and has the ability to cause widespread calamity. These types of incidents trigger human panic. These biological agents mainly bacteria, virus, toxins, fungi are living organisms and their toxic products can kill or incapacitate people, livestock and plants. These agents can be dispersed by spraying them into air, infecting animals that carry disease to humans and by contaminating food and water. Potentially hundreds of human pathogens could be used as weapons; however public health authorities have identified only a few as having the potential to cause causalities leading to civil disruptions.

The United Nations had closely been associated with CBRN disasters through its different programmes and specialized agencies. It was acknowledged later that there was a need to tackle the consequences of nuclear and biological related disasters, which has spurred the development of wide ranging international co-operation in science, humanitarian assistance and technology. National Disaster Management Authority, Government of India have proactively taken steps in the direction of institutionalization of the framework for “all hazard” emergency response in disasters culminated into the formulation of the National Guidelines on Medical Preparedness and Mass Causality Management, Nuclear and Radiological Disaster Management, Chemical Disaster Management etc. World Health Organization has been associated with Medical, Biological and Radiological Disasters for long. It was in the year 1989 WHO first raised concerns that local medical scientists had incorrectly attributed various biological and health effects to radiation exposure during the Chernobyl incident. Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) has been spreading awareness about Nuclear Disasters for long and one example is at Jitapur, Maharashtra, India where this public sector enterprise is actively working to set up a nuclear plant keeping all concerns into account & carefully finding the mitigation strategies. In Fiscal year 2009, USAID and Office of U.S Foreign Disaster Assistance responded to 63 disasters in 49 countries to assist nearly 55 million disaster-affected people. In Africa, OFDA disaster responses included assistance to populations affected by complex emergencies, food insecurity, ammunitions explosion, cholera and measles outbreaks.

There are new CBRN detection tools which will help us to use our ability to employ adequate detection methods, use modern and effective decontamination technologies and equipment, deal efficiently with decontamination wastes and do all of these in a safe manner. It’s a challenge for the Research Teams to come up with more innovative solutions to better equip and protect the community from these types of disaster.

Hence solutions need to be found for response strategies at the personal levels to these types of attacks or accidents. Though it needs some effort but a small step to aware and to empower ourselves with knowledge about disasters and its management could give us more days to live life and make a safer world for us as well as for the future generations.

Thanks and Regards,

Mainak Majumdar

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/