Hurricane Matthew’s passage through the Caribbean last week demonstrates the importance of preparing people–in particular, those who are isolated–for natural disasters. The goal is to limit the loss of life and the long-term consequences.
How do we help villagers facing floods or droughts? How do we put contingency plans into place and define each person's responsibilities? How do we put together emergency response teams and a monitoring and alert system? How do we ensure the equal inclusion of most vulnerable people, in particular people with disabilities?
Handicap International is implementing 15 programs worldwide to respond to these challenges. In Sri Lanka, the organization helps inhabitants of coastal villages to put in place evacuation plans. In Pakistan's Sindh region, which is particularly poverty stricken and vulnerable to disasters, it works on protecting both people and their property (livestock, agriculture, tools used for traditional work, etc.).
In Haiti and Cuba, Handicap International helps the authorities to draw up adapted national policies. It also helps many villages and areas to prepare against natural disasters, putting in place early warning systems, further developing evacuation plans and carrying out drills. According to Véronique Walbaum, Handicap International's expert on disaster risk reduction, the evacuation of people in these areas before the storm on October 4 was done rapidly and effectively. Knowing how the alert would be given and what each person had to do, etc. no doubt saved lives.
International Day for Disaster Reduction
Set up by the United Nations, the International Day for Disaster Reduction (October 13) is intended to raise public awareness of the measures necessary to reduce the risk should disaster strike.