One of our lecture slides from the Health Aspects of Disaster course included a diagram that supported the principles of building resiliency by illustrating the benefits of anticipatory actions compared to post-onset response procedures.
- Most cost-effective
- Pre-impact (when it is likely easier to manoeuvre and implement preparations)
- Community-based (grassroots)
- More sustainable
- Delivered post-impact (when it is likely more difficult to manoeuvre, distribute resources and information and initiate action)
- Least cost-effective
- Nationally and internationally-based
- Put in place organisation and coordination to understand and reduce disaster risk, based on participation of citizen groups and civil society. Build local alliances. Ensure that all departments understand their role in disaster risk reduction and preparedness.
- Assign a budget for disaster risk reduction and provide incentives for homeowners, low‐income families, communities, businesses and the public sector to invest in reducing the risks they face.
- Maintain up‐to‐date data on hazards and vulnerabilities, prepare risk assessments and use these as the basis for urban development plans and decisions. Ensure that this information and the plans for your city’s resilience are readily available to the public and fully discussed with them.
- Invest in and maintain critical infrastructure that reduces risk, such as flood drainage, adjusted where needed to cope with climate change.
- Assess the safety of all schools and health facilities and upgrade these as necessary.
- Apply and enforce realistic, risk‐compliant building regulations and land use planning principles. Identify safe land for low‐income citizens and upgrade informal settlements, wherever feasible.
- Ensure that education programmes and training on disaster risk reduction are in place in schools and local communities.
- Protect ecosystems and natural buffers to mitigate floods, storm surges and other hazards to which your city may be vulnerable. Adapt to climate change by building on good risk reduction practices.
- Install early warning systems and emergency management capacities in your city and hold regular public preparedness drills.
- After any disaster, ensure that the needs of the affected population are placed at the centre of reconstruction, with support for them and their community organisations to design and help implement responses, including rebuilding homes and livelihoods."
I was also pleased to see that the focus is not only on building the resilience of structures and institutions, but also of the people themselves. The course study guide went discussed the importance of re-establishing cultural identity and looking after mental health and social well-being in addition to physical health. As an immigrant to Australia, I have often found it difficult to feel happy and productive, especially when I miss practicing the social norms and cultural customs of my home country. The lack of strong social ties can also lead to profound sadness and loneliness, particularly for someone like me who thrives emotionally when they interact with others. There have been several occasions when I have gathered with other Canadians (there is a Brisbane group that meets on a regular basis for hockey games and celebrations like Canada Day and Thanksgiving) and despite the fact that I do not know any of them, I find the sense of community to be very comforting. We can share stories and talk about our sports teams and there is a feeling of familiarity and belonging. Everyone should have that, it helps you relax, laugh, let go of your stress and feel happy, even if it's only for a couple of hours every once in a while. In my experience, social gatherings also build a sense of community, which makes people more likely to band together and help one another in times of need, thereby forming a stronger, more cohesive and resilient society. Contributing to society can also help build the self-esteem of individuals by making them feel needed and valued. Without the will of individuals, it is difficult to accomplish anything or make any progress.
Dunham J 2014b, Health Aspects of Disaster, Course study guide, University of Queensland, Brisbane.