Make communities the starting point in tsunami risk reduction - experts
"The closer the warning gets to the most vulnerable people, the more it
fades out," said Marcus Oxley, chairman of the Global Network of Civil
Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction.
"This does make you question the effectiveness of national or
international warning systems. Even if you have the best policy at the
national level, there is no guarantee that this will bring about changes
at the local level where people are at risk, live and work."
In a report released in June 2009, called
Clouds but little rain..." Views from the Frontline,
the Global Network chaired by Oxley found that community participation in
the decision-making process was one of the lowest scoring indicators and
concluded that the emphasis must shift from international and national
policy making to policy execution at local levels if lives are to be
In Orissa, India, for example, local people are involved in drawing up
maps of vulnerable areas and assessing potential risks, a vital step in
building resilient communities, the report said.
Community radio is being established in Bangladesh so that warnings of
imminent disasters can be circulated in local languages.
The review spanned 48 countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas and
collected the views of over 7000 local government officials, civil society
and community representatives mainly through face-to-face interviews.
"The question is how can we design the technology so that it serves the
people. The problem with the 'last mile' is that it's trying to design the
people to serve the technology," said Ilan Kelman, a senior research
fellow at CICERO, the Centre for International Climate and Environmental
Research in Oslo.
"The starting point should be with the local community, asking them what
they know already and what are their concerns."
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