December 21, 2016

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The importance of disaster risk reduction

Many people believe that the loss of life and property caused by the forces of nature cannot be prevented. Although it is undeniable that major meteorological or geological events cannot be prevented, the dangers posed by natural disasters can be reduced dramatically if risk reduction
measures are applied systematically before disasters strike.
Disaster risk reduction means taking preventive measures against disasters as part of our everyday activities. For example, teaching schoolchildren how to find safe places during an earthquake and building earthquake-proof buildings are risk reduction measures that have proved successful.
Teaching community members how to respond to flash floods is also a risk reduction measure that can save lives. Places where risk reduction measures are not applied systematically suffer disproportionate losses of life and property due to natural disasters.
Japan is well prepared for earthquakes and generally suffers lower degrees of destruction from earthquakes than unprepared countries like Iran or Nepal, even though all three are located in earthquake-prone areas. In Japan, even young schoolchildren are taught how to survive earthquakes.
In Myanmar, the lack of preparedness for flooding and landslides left over a million people displaced and more than 120 dead. By slightly altering our daily routines, we can mitigate the risks of disaster so that we avoid such heavy losses next time nature strikes.


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