International Day for Disaster Reduction

October 14th is the International Day for Disaster Reduction.

October 14th is the International Day for Disaster Reduction. According to the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, “The International Day for Disaster Reduction raises the profile of disaster risk reduction and encourages every citizen and government to take part in building more resilient communities and nations.

While the 2009 International Day for Disaster Reduction is dedicated to the protection of hospitals in case of disasters, the recent aquatic disasters in the Asia-Pacific region, including the typhoons in the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and China, the floods in India, as well as the tsunami in Samoa, are a reminder of the vulnerability of societies to these hazards. Furthermore, climate change is expected to increase both the frequency and intensity of weather-related hazards, including hurricanes, typhoons and floods.

The need for effective disaster reduction becomes increasingly obvious. Disaster reduction is more cost-effective than traditional disaster response, often by a tenfold factor. Luckily enough, aquatic hazards often offer the margin for early warning, thus enabling to implement early response measures. Ironically, though, the areas that are worst hit by these disasters often do not have access to these systems or the means to propagate the alert or evacuate those at risk.

The International Lifesaving Federation focuses on preventing drowning through disaster mitigation and preparedness. Lifesavers and drowning prevention specialists worldwide have already proven their ability to effectively educate and train the public in basic water safety, thus offering lifesaving skills. ILS is striving to increase aquatic disaster awareness in order to help prevent drowning related deaths worldwide. “Children are disproportionately impacted upon by disaster and drowning is the leading cause of death in this age group, making them a special target group for water safety awareness activities , said Justin Scarr, Chair of the International Life Saving Federation Child Drowning Committee. “Thus, by taking action to educate children about the danger inherent in aquatic environments, this sensitive age group is shielded not only against disasters, but also everyday risks of drowning.

Furthermore, ILS Member Organizations are effectively putting into good use their knowledge of local features, networks and operational skills in participating in overall preparedness efforts, by training water rescue personnel (volunteers and military/government), teaming with local and national authorities to establish local and national disaster response plans and early warning systems, and providing specialized equipment and facilities to be used in case of emergency.

The 2011 World Conference on Drowning Prevention is co-hosted by the Royal Life Saving Society-Australia and The Alliance for Safe Children in Danang, Vietnam, one of the regions that were severely impacted by recent typhoons. A special section on aquatic disasters has been included as a conference theme.

For more information about the World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2011 contact:
Justin Scarr, Chief Operating Officer
Royal Life Saving Society ” Australia
+612 8217 3112
Article author: George Karagiannis