Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Managing disasters

Once again nature’s fury has knocked our doors. A few millimetres of rain, and we faced roadblocks, landslides, etc. drawing life out of gear. Landslides have been reported from almost all parts of the State making life difficult for all. This situation once again throws challenges which are turning out severe in nature for the lack of proper response. Let’s revisit the issue of disaster management, which has been talked much but not planned properly to rescue general population out of the miseries of disasters that we have been facing at regular intervals. On many occasions people are prepared for and ready to face issues and problems which might possibly come their way. Equipment, technology and resources are kept as a back-up plan in case there is a crisis. But there are certain cases where things are simply beyond our control and nature’s fury puts life out of gear. Ours being a geographically remote location has always remained vulnerable to weather vagaries. We don’t need scientific inventions to forecast such vulnerabilities as we have the distinction of being a place where four seasons are well demarcated. It’s here Government and non-governmental organizations are supposed to be prepared with disaster management plans whether those happen or not. Time and again we have witnessed a few millimetres of rain at our place creating a tsunami like situation. Normal activities get halted with loss of life and property. The current rainy situation is not unprecedented, but lack of preparedness to handle such wet weather conditions has turned it into a catastrophe situation. Though it is not at all a calamitous situation, yet again the lack of proactive approach of the concerned authorities and their preparedness to face even small challenges in preserving and protecting the quality of life got exposed. No doubt, disasters occur worldwide, but we are more adversely affected due to lack of preparedness and other infrastructural facilities to mitigate such risks. We have a good chunk of our population which is socio-economically weak and mostly located in vulnerable areas and structurally they are not in a position to withstand the impact of natural hazard like roadblocks due to landslides, earthquakes, etc. This section of population have marginal asset base and once they fall prey to any disaster they are left without any means of livelihood. Even as rainfall is a natural phenomenon, never has there been any effort to keep ourselves ready to meet any serious intensity of the weather fury. We have adopted an approach with a mere response to the occurrence of disasters. Natural hazards like landslides, floods and earthquakes cannot be avoided. But at least with sound and tested mitigation measures in place we can prevent these vulnerabilities turning into major disasters. What we need is to build a safer and disaster resilient Nagaland by developing a holistic, proactive, multi hazard and technology driven strategy for disaster management. For this a culture of prevention, mitigation and preparedness to generate a prompt and efficient response at the time disaster is required. Our emphasis should be on the restoration of permanent livelihood of those affected. The reconstruction and recovery aspect in the management of disasters requires the most patient and painstaking effort by all concerned. Planners should understand that relief is no longer perceived only as monetary compensation or provision of emergency relief supplies on time. It should on the contrary be viewed as an overarching system of facilitation of immediate assistance to the victims of catastrophe for their rebuilding. The relief provided should always be prompt and good in quality as well as in quantity. The system also calls for need to upgrade skills, information techniques and importance of cooperation and coordination between various agencies at all levels to mitigate the impact of disasters. In succinct, we must have state-of-the-art disaster management tools in place, as nature’s fury is most of the time knocking our doors. What we need is a long-term policy for managing post-disaster problems. There is need to work and regulate civil society organizations that are willing to provide relief and rehabilitation. And above all, we must not prepare ourselves to manage disasters by succumbing to disasters.