Disasters

  • “A disaster is a sudden, calamitous event that seriously disrupts the functioning of a community or society and causes human, material, and economic or environmental losses that exceed the community’s or society’s ability to cope using its own resources. Though often caused by nature, disasters can have human origins”
    • (IRFC, 2019)
  • Disasters are split into two main categories; man – made and natural.
    • Man made disasters
      • “events that are caused by humans and occur in or close to human settlements.”
      • Examples are famine, industrial accidents, transport accidents, famine and other complex emergencies or conflicts.
        • (IRFC, 2019)
    • Natural disasters
      • “naturally  occurring physical phenomena caused either by rapid or slow onset events”
      • Examples are split into four categories
        • Geophysical: earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis and volcanic activity
        • Hydrological: avalanches and floods
        • Meteorological: cyclones, tornadoes, storm/wave surges, and other extreme weather
        • Biological: disease epidemics and insect/animal plagues
          •  (IRFC, 2019)
  • A countries capability to be able to deal with a disaster relies on three factors;
    •  Preparedness
    • Response
    • Recovery
  • This can be seen most clearly when comparing Japan’s 9.0 magnitude earthquake in  March 2011 and Haiti’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake in January 2010.
Japan Haiti
Preparation ·       Prepared for earthquake

·       People had hard hats and protective headgear

·       Not prepared for following tsunami

·       Around 2 million Haitians live on land that they don’t own (In Port-au-Prince 67% of the 2.4 million population live in ‘Informal Areas’)

·       Buildings can be put up anywhere without proper foundations or planning

·       Only 30% had access to sanitation

·       Only 54% had access to clean water

·       History of corruption and violence within the political history

·       Badly prepared

Impact (numbers) ·       2,000 people confirmed dead (10,000 more expected to be dead)

·       2,000 people injured

·       530,000 people displaced

·       2,500 evacuation centres to house those displaced

·       2,400 people were isolated immediately after disaster

·       1.2 million homes without power

·       1.4 million homes without water

·       4,700 destroyed houses (50,000 damaged)

·       582 roads cut off

·       32 bridges destroyed

·       3.5 million people living in the most damaged areas

·       Anywhere between 85,000 and 316,000 people dead (unconfirmed because of rapid body decomposition in the heat and humidity and overwhelmed morgues resulting in mass graves)

·       30,000 injured

·       1 million made homeless (10% of the population)

·       250,000 dwellings destroyed or significantly damaged

·       60% of government buildings destroyed

·       80% of schools in capital and 60% in South and West provinces damaged or destroyed

·       UN headquarters in Haiti destroyed

Response ·       Tsunami warning issued 3 minutes after the earthquake

·       Emergency cabinet meeting convened

·       News conference held

·       Military sent in to help

·       Task force and disaster control team set up

·       Asked for help with search and rescue

·       Used social media to bring updates on the situation

·       Makeshift camps set up causing outbreaks of disease because of poor sanitation and proximity to decomposing bodies

·       Poor response from government

·       Problems with management of airports

·       4-day delay of supplies to remote areas resulting in looting and violence

·       Haitian government called off search on 23rd January (last survivor found on 8th February)

·       Lots of international response

·       No long-term strategy so problems still continue over 9 years since earthquake

This shows how much a country’s readiness and response to a disaster can really affect the recovery of the country. Although Japan’s earthquake should of had more of an impact on the country, because of the greater magnitude, it is Haiti that is still suffering because Japan had the education, money and resources to prepare themselves for the earthquake but Haiti had none of this.

This topic has really made me reflect on how the UK would cope in a situation like this and how much countries such as Haiti really need our support and help even now. This is a topic I would look into with older classes to help them understand how the impact of such disasters differ from country to country. With younger classes I would approach this subject and make them aware that disasters do cause injury, death and destruction but would mainly keep to how these events happen or form; just like what was presented in the micro teaching done by the cohort.

The main skill I used was critical thinking skills when looking at the case studies on Japan and Haiti and being able to form an opinion on the situation and to be able to able to compare them. I used a variety of skills when it came to preparing and presenting the micro teaching such as; research skills, communication skills, critical thinking, decision making and communication skills.

The Dr Bionic videos is a resource I would use for younger classes when doing this topic:

(These can also be accessed as seperate videos)

Red cross resources link

 

References

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (2019) About disasters [Online] Available: https://www.ifrc.org/en/what-we-do/disaster-management/about-disasters/ [Accessed: 2 November 2019]

Sustainable Development (n.d.) Case Study: Haiti  [Module resource] Available: Energy tab in Sustainable Development on Moodle [Accessed 2 November 2019]

Sustainable Development (n.d.) Case Study: Japan  [Module resource] Available: Energy tab in Sustainable Development on Moodle [Accessed 2 November 2019]