Disaster Prevention

Preparing for the Twenty-first Century: Appropriate Action to Reduce the Impact of Disasters

Handing down a safe and pleasant world

The dramatic progress of science and technology has led to more effective disaster prevention measures. But there continues to be heavy loss of life from disasters, and the number of deaths is actually increasing, especially in the developing countries of Asia and elsewhere. Humankind is still vulnerable to natural disasters, and many hurdles remain to be cleared before we can overcome the impact of disasters. One of the greatest responsibilities we face today is to hand down a world that is safe and pleasant to future generations in the twenty-first century.

Raising awareness of disaster prevention

Disaster countermeasures range from such "hardware" projects as the construction of embankments to "software" measures like training programs and the raising of awareness of disaster prevention. Ideally these efforts should be implemented on an integrated basis, but fiscal restraints, particularly in the developing countries, can hinder the development of hardware facilities, like those to enhance the ability to defend against disasters. Education, training, and awareness-raising programs are highly practical and effective measures that can be implemented more easily because of the low costs involved, and these software efforts can make a significant contribution to disaster reduction.

Disaster-resistant construction standards

Often in the developing countries, the destruction of housing, public facilities, and infrastructure results in a heavy loss of life. This is attributable to the fact that disaster prevention considerations are often ignored during the construction of these facilities or are not accorded high priority even when they are taken into account. The establishment and observance of construction standards that reflect disaster prevention considerations will contribute to a mitigation of these disasters.

Mitigating damage through appropriate action

Although we talk about "natural" disasters, there are often situations in which human activity magnifies the impact of disasters. In other words, appropriate human behavior can mitigate the damage caused by disasters. It is hoped that this fact will be widely recognized once again by the international community during the middle year of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction and that feasible and effective action plans will be formulated for the future.

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