Preparation more effective than emergency aid in dealing with climate-related disasters, experts claim

Nov 30, 2012

Emergency aid provided in the aftermath of natural disasters like floods, earthquakes and tsunamis, has "critical shortcomings" that could be overcome with better preparation, experts say.

Speaking as world leaders gather for the UN in Doha, Dr Benedetta Rossi, lecturer of West African Studies at the University of Birmingham, warns that preparing for climate-related disaster is a "substantially more effective approach… than emergency aid interventions developed in the aftermath of crisis".

Dr Rossi joins an event held in partnership with Islamic Relief, at the University of Birmingham this evening (Thurs) to warn that, while emergency relief is necessary and saves lives, it also has its drawbacks.

"It is not only that emergency aid is more expensive, and therefore less efficient. But it is also predicated on the assumption that the most economically marginal people (who are often the first ones to suffer from the immediate consequences of climate-related disasters) only have a right to food, shelter, and basic social services once they have become victims of severe impoverishment and malnutrition," she is due to say.

"An emphasis on recognizes that poor communities and individuals should be helped when they are still healthy and capable to help themselves – that is, before they become victims of hunger and acute destitution."

According to Islamic Relief, climate-related disasters increased 4.1% a year from 1980 to 2010 and in 2010/11, more than 25 million people were affected by a succession of major . There were floods in Pakistan; an earthquake in Haiti and across the of Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. Since then, prolonged drought has led to massive food and across East and West Africa, and there are currently more than 29 million people suffering from chronic malnutrition.

Dr Rossi notes: "A critical shortcoming of emergency aid is that some of its responses tend to shift responsibility for the prevention of famine away from national axes of political accountability. International emergency programmes reach persons who have become anonymous victims in a system of global development governance that is not directly accountable to them. Instead, aid policies should encourage citizens of poor countries to expect their governments to prioritise food security…

"By increasing the livelihood security of marginal groups, a disaster preparedness approach improves the capacity of vulnerable groups to rely on democratic mechanisms of political participation in order to put pressure on their local and national representatives."

A spokeswoman for Islamic Relief said: "If more money was invested in resilience and climate-change adaptation programmes, fewer people would die and fewer homes and businesses would be destroyed when the next disaster strikes."

Explore further: Liberal democracy is possible in Muslim-majority countries

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Emergency response

Nov 12, 2007

Disasters are getting worse it seems but the federal government's preparedness has been limited to helping after a disaster has occurred. On the other hand, local organizations often do not have the resources or the training ...

Emergency online communities

Mar 04, 2010

Online social networks could help with communications and recovery for people with disabilities following major natural disasters, or even terrorist attack, according to a research paper in the International Journal of Em ...

UN warns of 'megadisasters' linked to climate change

Jun 17, 2009

The United Nations on Tuesday raised the prospect of "megadisasters" affecting millions of people in some of the world's biggest cities unless more is done to heed the threat of climate change.

Asia's mega-cities 'more vulnerable to disasters'

Nov 13, 2012

Asia's cities are becoming increasingly vulnerable to natural disasters as they struggle with poor planning, population explosions and climate change, the Asian Development Bank warned on Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Feeling bad at work can be a good thing

11 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Research by the University of Liverpool suggests that, contrary to popular opinion, it can be good to feel bad at work, whilst feeling good in the workplace can also lead to negative outcomes.

3Qs: Citizen journalism in Ferguson

12 hours ago

Tensions have escalated in Ferguson, Missouri, following the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, by a white police officer. The incident has led to peaceful protests ...

Social inequality worsens in New Zealand

13 hours ago

Research by Dr Lisa Marriott, an associate professor in Victoria's School of Accounting and Commercial Law, and Dr Dalice Sim, Statistical Consultant in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Operations Research, builds ...

User comments : 0