June 2005

Disaster Feature

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Disasters have always been identified as an obstacle to achieve the development goals. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) touch upon areas like poverty, education, health, etc. which are closely linked to vulnerability to natural hazards.

GOAL 1: Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger
Extreme poverty and hunger lead to consequences like increasing the likelihood of populations living in more hazard prone areas, having less protection against disaster impact and lowering coping capacity during and after the hazardous event. Thus, eradicating extreme poverty is harmonised with reducing risk of potential losses from disasters like drought, floods, cyclones and earthquakes. For this, the microfinance institutions can offer its members a variety of micro insurance packages as Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) of India has done in the aftermath of the Gujarat earthquake in 2001.

GOAL 2: Achieving universal primary education
Disaster occurrences greatly hamper the education process in many ways, with human loss and injury, social upheaval, school property damage and closings, and often with children having to leave school for long periods in the recovery period. Some of the children do not get another chance to attend school, which deepens the vicious cycle of lack of education and vulnerability. In many earthquakes around the world, school buildings collapsed, causing severe setback to primary education. So countries like Turkey, Colombia, India and Indonesia have started to incorporate seismic safety standards into new school building constructions.

GOAL 3: Promoting gender equality and empowering women
Women are frequently, disproportionately and negatively affected by disaster impact and can also face targeted gender-based violence and exploitation in the aftermath of disasters. Women are often left out of formal planning and decision making for disaster recovery affairs.

GOAL 4: Reducing child mortality (children below the age of five)
Infants and young children are among the most vulnerable segments of any given population. In the aftermath of disasters, interrupted basic infrastructure, stretched emergency and health care facilities, the outbreak of disease epidemics, and the loss or injury of care givers and income earners, make young children even more susceptible to physical and emotional trauma.

GOAL 5: Improving maternal health
In households where basic needs are hardly met, the pressure of post-disaster impact can eliminate the possibility of adequate maternal care. Pregnant woman are often at high risk from death/injury in disasters. Increased responsibilities and workloads create stress for surviving mothers.

GOAL 6: Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases of epidemic proportions make infected populations more vulnerable in the wake of disaster. With basic infrastructure being damaged and interrupted, water-borne and insect vector diseases can escalate rapidly, which severely hampers recovery and development efforts. Additionally, overburdened health care facilities can make regular treatments impossible.

Strategies proposed by the Millennium Project
The report entitled 'Investing in development: A practical plan to achieve the Millennium Development Goals' of the UN Millennium Project has  recommended the following five-fold strategy for reducing losses from disasters:

  • Strategies to reduce disaster losses need to be mainstreamed in poverty reduction strategy papers;
  • Infrastructure investment to incorporate disaster risk reduction efforts;
  • Social safety nets for the vulnerable, particularly through government provisions;
  • Early warning capacities and information campaigns supported by governments;
  • Pre-crisis emergency and contingency planning.

GOAL 7: Ensuring environmental sustainability
The link between environmental degradation and disaster occurrence is well recognised. Degradation of the resource base leads directly to less access to resource-based livelihoods and migration to marginal and often more hazard-prone areas. Strategies like prior environmental impact assessments of all developmental projects, participatory management of biodiversity and ecosystem resources can contribute to break the chain of accumulated risk.

GOAL 8: Developing a global partnership for development
Mainstreaming disaster risk reduction continues to gain momentum at all levels with development efforts increasingly including risk reduction considerations and risk reduction initiatives further incorporating wider development viewpoints. The World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) process has formally linked disaster risk reduction with global development efforts. Disaster reduction has also been a part of the national, regional and global meetings of the Programme of Action for Small Island Developing States (SIDS). 

Source: http://www.unisdr.org/eng/mdgs-drr/review-8mdgs.htm

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