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Securing lifelines for disaster

By Vinod Thomas and Ronald S. Parker | China Daily | Updated: 2010-08-17 07:47

The frequency and intensity of natural disasters have been on the rise in recent decades. This year alone, a catastrophic earthquake has devastated Haiti, a far stronger quake battered Chile, and yet another quake brought destruction to the Chinese province of Qinghai. Disasters caused by tropical storms and heavy rain have been increasing most rapidly.

Pakistan has suffered massive loss of lives and economic damage from what is being described as the worst flood in decades, and most recently massive mudslides in northwestern China claimed hundreds of lives and destroyed infrastructure and property. This tragic sequence of events is yet another demonstration that disasters are recurrent, and therefore, national development planning should always involve increasing resilience and readiness over time.

The recent calamities not only caused casualties, but also triggered emergency relief intended to address the life-threatening problems of survivors. Therein lies a lesson worth taking more to heart going forward. Very often urgent care could not be provided because critical care facilities were no longer functioning, or there was no way to access services. While headlines focus on damage, not enough attention is paid to reconstruction efforts and the importance of ensuring functioning lifelines - notably potable water and first aid - during disasters.

Securing lifelines for disaster

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