Bangladesh, the most vulnerable country in the world to the impact of natural disasters is also a leader in emergency preparedness and disaster response, particularly for cyclones, tidal surges and floods. This was achieved through 25 years of effort, which was catalyzed through two devastating cyclones, one in 1970 and 1991 that caused the deaths of approximately 500,000 and 300,000 people respectively. Part of what makes Bangladesh so strong at cyclone preparedness and response is the fact that major cyclones seem to hit Bangladesh every 3-4 years. Recurrence of this frequency is quite unique.
On the other hand, major seismic events that lead to major losses occur infrequently. Cities like Dhaka and Kathmandu, which are susceptible to major earthquakes, haven’t experienced a major shake in more than a generation. Unfortunately, a lack of frequency often leads to complacency amongst governments and citizens. Even more problematic is the very rapid accumulation of assets and population in urban environments in South Asia, including Dhaka.
Walking through the streets of Dhaka paints a picture of a city with significant structural vulnerabilities – where poor construction standards, lack of enforcement, and poor maintenance turn many buildings into potential hazards. When a building in Savar collapsed in April 2013 – killing over 1,100 people and injuring thousands more – it was a wakeup call for Bangladesh. The collapse was not triggered by an earthquake, it was the result of catastrophic structural failures, but it was a glimpse into what could happen in the event of a major earthquake.
I will never forget October 8, 2005, a day that changed my life forever as it did for hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis.
I remember my house shaking violently like never before and my instinctive reaction to get myself and my family to safety outside the house. This was an earthquake that felt distinctly different from others. Things were shaking and moving too much and for too long. When we started seeing plumes of smoke rising from where a high rise apartment building had once stood, we knew this was really bad. Watching the terrified look of affected people on TV shook me inside and forced me to think about difference I could make. When I went back to my job and my life, the question kept nagging at me. When I was presented with the opportunity to work on the earthquake reconstruction project for the World Bank, I took it and have never looked back.
When a disaster strikes, such as a hurricane or a major earthquake, relief efforts are often hampered by destroyed or damaged ground infrastructure, mostly roads, bridges, and railway networks. In the days following such a disaster, relief efforts hinge on air transport capacity, which only depends on a clear runway or landing sites for helicopters. First responders, who focus on saving lives, are primarily aviation units of the armed forces or law enforcement.
|The devastation from the Sichuan earthquake was immense; the recovery, impressive.|
Four years ago on May 12, 2008, the world was stunned by the news of an 8-magnitude massive earthquake that struck Wenchuan of Sichuan Province and affected, in total, ten provinces in Southwestern Ch
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The story of Nelta is not uncommon in present-day Haiti. A few months ago, she gave birth to her second child, Jasmine, at her modest home, in the town of Jacmel, 30 miles south of Port-au-Prince.
Unexpectedly, she went into labor when she was 7 months pregnant, but lived too far from the health center to be able to get there in time for delivery. Jasmine was born prematurely and with a low birth weight.
“Haiti” and “food” and “nutrition” are words not usually seen together as part of an optimistic statement, rather the opposite. But as we commemorate World Food Day I believe there is a lot that Haiti can bring to the table to find a sustainable solution to its stubborn malnutrition problem.
This may sound like the world’s best kept secret, but it is partly the result of people, including ourselves sometimes, focusing on Haiti’s ailments rather than its progress.
News story by Susana Seijas, Mexico City
Recalling its monstrous 1985 earthquake, Mexico City trains 10,000 of its civil servants in disaster recovery techniques.
MEXICO CITY – Japan’s cataclysmic March 11 earthquake and tsunami have evoked painful memories of Mexico City’s 1985 quake and made many here reflect on how well prepared the city is for a similar disaster.
“You can never really be ready for a disaster like the 1985 earthquake, or a catastrophe of that magnitude,” says Carlos Morales Cienfuegos, a search and rescue volunteer who pulled people from Mexico City’s crumbled buildings.
March 11, 2011. This day became an unforgettable day for Japanese people. A massive earthquake and tsunami left more than 15,000 people dead, and over 7,000 people are still missing (as of June 24, 2011).
Since my hometown is in Miyagi prefecture, the area most affected by the disaster, I went back to my hometown and decided to help as a volunteer.