Disaster preparedness is seen as one of the greatest opportunities in increasing survival levels across a multitude of natural disasters across the world, as well as providing opportunities to decrease the damage on areas when events such as earthquakes or flooding occur. However, this opportunity of preparedness appears to only being put in place in the northern areas of our globe, where the relatively large budgets and staff levels are in place to prepare areas such as Florida, USA, for the grave events of such things as Hurricane Matthew. Yet, as a world, we do not seem to be making unanimous progress within the area of disaster preparedness to allow more to survive globally and to put in place ways for populations and communities to 'bounce-back' post-disaster.
This is a very topical piece as we see the effects that Hurricane Matthew has in areas of the Caribbean, most of all in the area of Haiti. This is a country not deserving of the recent turmoil's it has faced. It was previously known for its beautiful sights and rich culture, one that has now nearly been but washed away by the first recent major disaster in the area, the 2010 earthquake. This powerful 7.0 magnitude earthquake ripped apart much of the fragile development on the island and the area has been facing the issues this singular event brought since. This earthquake, and the areas increased time to start returning to normality, something that appears distant today, also led to the inevitable water-borne diseases so usually associated with broken drainage pipe infrastructure post-earthquake. Haiti has since been fighting off a cholera epidemic which has been draining even more from this wondrous society. Then last week, on top of all this, Hurricane Matthew arrives. We have seen the terrible state Haiti is now in and it provides a perfect case study of the importance of preparedness schemes, as well as showing the increased difficulty southern areas do appear to face in the aftermath of any disaster.
While areas such as North America and Europe have funds constantly available in the event of earthquakes or flooding, many southern nations, stuck in a world of poverty and malnutrition, simply do not have the free funds to spend on long and short-term preparedness schemes. When a country, such as Haiti, is already struggling with disease and a broken infrastructure how can it be left simply to fend for itself, with a population earning so little, with so many few exports as well as a tourist trade destroyed by natural hazards. This means limited free funds, and that money that is free is usually diverted to education or health, and not on preparedness schemes that may never be used in the next generations lifetime, or unfortunately for this nation, could be needed three times in six years. This future-thinking is easy in nations where insurance and funds are relatively easier to acquire, as well as with a population base more educated in how to deal with the specific hazard. However, we seem to forget post-natural disaster that many 'poor' or 'less-developed' countries simply do not have these abilities, and as such should it not be seen that those countries with the ability to provide preparedness and aid prior to an event should play more of a supporting role than they currently do? By sharing knowledge and support both parties could benefit, one from increased research knowledge and ability to understand how to prepare for the events, while the other is provided with at least some form of preparedness by the 'sponsor country', if you like. This is an idea floating around for years, but apart from regular aid, nothing seems to have been developed or evaluated, a great loss in my eyes for all the world.
Now of course, we have seen how the media and aid does tail off only weeks after a disaster in any country, especially southern nations it appears sadly. This is a blog topic for another day, but one that must be spoken about. While a natural disaster can just take seconds to occur, it will leave its mark for several years, yet most will only pay attention and 'pray' for the nation for a select few weeks. This is a huge issue within global aid programs post-event but one that does need to be tackled in its own right.
Today we see Haiti ripped apart even more so than ever before, and now we must look to how future preparedness schemes across the world could halt such tragedies as those happening in Haiti happening to any other countries ever again into the future.
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