Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Disaster preparedness saves lives

Voxy (New Zealand): The World Bank says Japan's systematic and careful investments in seismic safety and tsunami preparedness over several decades saved countless lives during the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Speaking at the 5th International Conference on Flood Management (ICFM5), the World Bank's Sector Director for Sustainable Development in East Asia and Pacific, John Roome, said Japan's example shows country's should invest in preparedness.

"Following Japan's example, countries around the world need to take steps in reducing risk, by focusing on risk information, financing frameworks, urban planning, early warning systems, and involving communities who are not mere victims of disasters but the first responders during an emergency and critical partners in reconstruction," "said Roome in his keynote address. "The resilience and community spirit demonstrated by the people of Japan in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami stands out as a shining example of strength in the face of tremendous adversity."

The conference's theme, "Floods: From Risk to Opportunity", reflects the urgent need to be better prepared for the risks posed by floods and to make use of the opportunities created by these devastating events.

Across the world, floods have caused serious damages this year. In March, Japan was hit by a powerful earthquake which created a devastating tsunami. In January, the state of Queensland in Australia witnessed the worst flooding in decades. In the US, millions of acres of farms were inundated and businesses shut down by flooding along the Mississippi River. In Brazil, a series of floods and mudslides early in the year caused at least 900 deaths.

While risk and potential for failure is vested in every system, not every natural hazard needs to automatically translate into devastating loss of life and property. There are concrete steps governments can make in reducing the underlying and future risks, and Japan's own excellent track-record in preparedness and risk reduction demonstrates that prevention pays, Roome reiterated...

Japan is ready for anything. Statue of Godzilla shot by Mizunoumi, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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