Not disaster resilient


Unprecedented high rainfall in Kerala created havoc as the whole state was flooded. More than 300 people lost their lives and more than three lakh people rendered homeless and have been forced to take shelter in relief camps, and still many others are waiting for rescue and relief operations. As we understand the miseries arising out of floods, the biggest challenge in this situation is rebuilding the shattered infrastructure, providing relief and putting in place a rehabilitation mechanism to pull people out of their miseries. Speaking in the context of our State, unprecedented rains causing floods and landslides in past few years is worrisome. A few millimeters of rain almost turns out a tsunami for us. A lot of debate is done about the disaster management system only when rains create havoc with life and property. Hardly we see the governments ready to face any eventuality like floods or landslides as they are always short 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 which we have been facing at regular intervals. 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 the place where four seasons are well demarcated. It’s here government and non-governmental organisations 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 disastrous situation. Normal activities get halted with loss of life and property. Lack of preparedness to handle wet weather conditions turn into a catastrophe. No doubt, disasters occur worldwide, but we are more adversely affected due to lack of preparedness and other infrastructural facilities to mitigate such risks. A good chunk of our population is socio-economically weak and mostly located in vulnerable areas. Even structurally they are not in a position to withstand the impact of natural hazards like landslides, floods, 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. We need preparedness and to be pro-active, especially when our state is considered as a part of sensitive zone for seismic activities. We have witnessed a chain of disasters happening through weather changes, including floods and landslides which swept peace and prosperity of the people. The rehabilitation of the victims is still a serious challenge. Even as rainfall is a natural phenomenon, never has been there 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 floods, landslides 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 of 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. The 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. Clearly we must have state-of-the-art disaster management tools in place, as the nature’s fury is most of the time knocking our doors.