Epitaph to the Hyogo Framework 2005-2015 - 2

Part 2 of a series

Aborted Scientists-Technologists conference

Due to faulty banking or incompetence of the organizers' fund partners, the task of mobilizing resources to make the budgets for various concerns including the private-led conference for hazards mapping available fell short of the target schedule.

Still and all, the commitment to undertake this private sector led conference did not and will never diminish. The organizers up to this day, continue with even greater vigor, the advocacy to propagate greater awareness of the need for a really focused mapping activity. This is also intended to yield the development of a decently sized GIS for water, fire, tectonic plate-fault movement, forest, mineral and other areas. The need to make geospatial information accessible to as large a number of people and entire populations as possible is also one central locus of the campaign of the organizers.

The basic premise of the organizers is that all the benchmarks and forward sights contained in the UN shown references below, are miserably outdated and are simply social work, administrative and quasi-political in character, or basically soft science-based.

To craft and keep using these documents with such obsolete and predominantly social and political premises is not wrong per se. What is insufferable is the fact that with a fixation on social, administrative and political or quasi-political issues without stressing content -- the primary substance of disaster risk reduction and exact environmental hazards, there will be no proper behavior by the public sector nor private sector during a disaster as evidenced by Yolanda.

At the heart of a convincing forecast and warning is confidence. That confidence is supported by very important stock scientific knowledge and is derived from perfected technology that is known to never tell a lie. From the forecaster's station, the public sector is able to reach the masses through early public warning systems, not dissimilar to but by far more superior and more effective than the Text Blast messaging system of Smart Telecom, Globe Telecom or any any GSM mobile communication carrier in the Philippines that only reaches government officials and excludes the public at large.

As if the unconscionable never happened during Hurricane Katrina, the tragedy had to be repeated over and over in Haiti, in Sendai and Fukushima, and then again in Tacloban City. In Japan, out of honor, the Prime Minister resigned due to underkill and a total lack of stock knowledge and fresh input on what to do.

The UNISDR reports with impunity that in Latvia, the chief executive resigned when a supermarket collapsed and 54 people came down with the building all dead. In the Philippines more than 300,000 up to 500,000 families are homeless with more than 12 million affected by Yolanda and nearly 10,000 have been killed. What the Japanese and Latvian PM did in their countries, will not happen in the Philippines but the point is that will these incidents still not jolt people to look much deeper into these phenomena?

Would it give us just a little comfort that even a quarter (2,500 out of 10,000 or 250,000 out of 1,000,000) of the casualties will survive? If that happened, many families in Tacloban City will be smiling today. Certainly if the figure was higher, the accomplishment would have been more satisfying. So much more if it was zero casualty, even if that was wishful thinking.

As the president of the Philippines stated, he is not to blame for the delay in bring relief and emergency response to ground zero of tropical cyclone Yolanda:

“All systems failed. What else could I have done?” – Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III

During his press briefing at Tacloban City President Aquino complained about the overwhelming power of Yolanda that all systems went down. That the government workers became victims themselves. Relief goods themselves were damaged by the flood and were rendered useless. (Even if the relief items were damaged and no one was around to distribute them, the volume of these relief goods could not have sufficiently fed the sheer size of the population that needed food and other items, even considering that thousands have already perished.)

President Aquino failed to mention that along with the relief goods in the government base operations center that had spacious room for evacuees, the helpless people drawn out of their homes during evacuation procedures and brought beside the vaunted relief goods, died from the storm surge.

When media reports started filtering through to the national capital region, one of the most shocking was an elementary school in Fishermen's Village, Barangay San Jose that was an evacuation center. The school was littered with dead bodies of the evacuees hoarded from their homes into the school to be safe from storm surges, only to end up dead.

As an officer of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) was being quizzed over national television of their preparations for Yolanda, a lady PIA official defended the government's actions by stating in no uncertain terms that everyone was warned about storm surge. She qualified this by saying that she engaged in a Text Blast using Smart Telecom's mobile promo service and several times texted local officials down to the barangay about storm surge.

At the same time she said that she was making calls and texting, at 8:00 AM on November 8, 2013, she heard the person she was calling at the other end of the line suddenly unable to speak and the only other sound she could hear over her phone was the sound of Yolanda howling and angry sounds of waters rushing. Most certainly the vaunted Text Blast failed to convince that party at the other end of the line that a storm surge would kill him or her.

As for the relief items Aquino said were damaged, these are all just in a list now and no one needs to account for them at this point in time.

That it would be very much helpful to have a really serious, well-funded, perfectly coordinated and managed generation of scientific data, technology, simple or sophisticated paradigms and modeling, all within the purview of the hazards mapping conference, was not and will not be considered.

Everyone was at peace and very much content anyway with the existence of the puny reference called Hyogo Framework of Action (HFA) and its sibling other framework declarations:

1.  International Framework for the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction of 1989
2.  Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action of 1994
3.  International Strategy for Disaster Reduction of 1999; and,
4. Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters

Why very little emphasis in the abovesaid precedent milestones of the United Nations is placed upon serious and highly focused, wholly co-operative crisis mapping we now know is a really serious error.

The obsolescence of the basic UN premise that is glaringly evident in the following important components of the Hyogo Framework for Action, promulgated in 2005 and projected into the Year 2015, simply remind us of what still needs to be done:

Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015

Key activities:

(i) National and local risk assessments

Develop, update periodically and widely disseminate risk maps and related information to decision-makers, the general public and communities at risk11 in an appropriate format.

(b) Develop systems of indicators of disaster risk and vulnerability at national and sub-national scales that will enable decision-makers to assess the impact of disasters12 on social, economic and environmental conditions and disseminate the results to decision makers, the public and populations at risk.

(c) Record, analyse, summarize and disseminate statistical information on disaster occurrence, impacts and losses, on a regular bases through international, regional, national and local mechanisms.

(ii) Early warning

(d) Develop early warning systems that are people centered, in particular systems whose warnings are timely and understandable to those at risk, which take into account the demographic, gender, cultural and livelihood characteristics of the target audiences, including guidance on how to act upon warnings, and that support effective operations by disaster managers and other decision makers.

11 See footnotes 1, 2 and 3 for the scope of this Framework for Action.
12 See footnotes 1, 2 and 3.

(e) Establish, periodically review, and maintain information systems as part of early warning systems with a view to ensuring that rapid and coordinated action is taken in cases of alert/emergency.

(f) Establish institutional capacities to ensure that early warning systems are well integrated into governmental policy and decision-making processes and emergency management systems at both the national and the local levels, and are subject to regular system testing and performance assessments.

(g) Implement the outcome of the Second International Conference on Early Warning held in Bonn, Germany, in 200313, including through the strengthening of coordination and cooperation among all relevant sectors and actors in the early warning chain in order to achieve fully effective early warning systems.

(h) Implement the outcome of the Mauritius Strategy for the further implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for the sustainable development of small island developing States, including by establishing and strengthening effective early warning systems as well as other mitigation and response measures.

(iii) Capacity

(i) Support the development and sustainability of the infrastructure and scientific, technological, technical and institutional capacities needed to research, observe, analyse, map and where possible forecast natural and related hazards, vulnerabilities and disaster impacts.

(j) Support the development and improvement of relevant databases and the promotion of full and open exchange and dissemination of data for assessment, monitoring and early warning purposes, as appropriate, at international, regional, national and local levels.

(k) Support the improvement of scientific and technical methods and capacities for risk assessment, monitoring and early warning, through research, partnerships, training and technical capacity- building. Promote the application of in situ and space-based earth observations, space technologies, remote sensing, geographic information systems, hazard modelling and prediction, weather and climate modelling and forecasting, communication tools and studies of the costs and benefits of risk assessment and early warning.

(l) Establish and strengthen the capacity to record, analyze, summarize, disseminate, and exchange statistical information and data on hazards mapping, disaster risks, impacts, and losses; support the development of common methodologies for risk assessment and monitoring.

(iv) Regional and emerging risks

(m) Compile and standardize, as appropriate, statistical information and data on regional disaster risks, impacts and losses.

(n) Cooperate regionally and internationally, as appropriate, to assess and monitor regional and trans-boundary hazards, and exchange information and provide early warnings through appropriate arrangements, such as, inter alia, those relating to the management of river basins.

13 As recommended in General Assembly resolution 58/214.

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(o) Research, analyse and report on long-term changes and emerging issues that might increase vulnerabilities and risks or the capacity of authorities and communities to respond to disasters.

3. Use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels

18. Disasters can be substantially reduced if people are well informed and motivated towards a culture of disaster prevention and resilience, which in turn requires the collection, compilation and dissemination of relevant knowledge and information on hazards, vulnerabilities and capacities.

Key activities:

(i) Information management and exchange

(a) Provide easily understandable information on disaster risks and protection options, especially to citizens in high-risk areas, to encourage and enable people to take action to reduce risks and build resilience. The information should incorporate relevant traditional and indigenous knowledge and culture heritage and be tailored to different target audiences, taking into account cultural and social factors.

(b) Strengthen networks among disaster experts, managers and planners across sectors and between regions, and create or strengthen procedures for using available expertise when agencies and other important actors develop local risk reduction plans.

(c) Promote and improve dialogue and cooperation among scientific communities and practitioners working on disaster risk reduction, and encourage partnerships among stakeholders, including those working on the socioeconomic dimensions of disaster risk reduction.

(d) Promote the use, application and affordability of recent information, communication and space-based technologies and related services, as well as earth observations, to support disaster risk reduction, particularly for training and for the sharing and dissemination of information among different categories of users.

(e) In the medium term, develop local, national, regional and international user-friendly directories, inventories and national information-sharing systems and services for the exchange of information on good practices, cost-effective and easy-to-use disaster risk reduction technologies, and lessons learned on policies, plans and measures for disaster risk reduction.

(f) Institutions dealing with urban development should provide information to the public on disaster reduction options prior to constructions, land purchase or land sale.

(g) Update and widely disseminate international standard terminology related to disaster risk reduction, at least in all official United Nations languages, for use in programme and institutional development, operations, research, training curricula and public information programmes.

(ii) Education and training

(h) Promote the inclusion of disaster risk reduction knowledge in relevant sections of school curricula at all levels and the use of other formal and informal channels to reach youth and children with information; promote the integration of disaster risk reduction as an intrinsic element of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005–2015).

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(i) Promote the implementation of local risk assessment and disaster preparedness programmes in schools and institutions of higher education.

(j) Promote the implementation of programmes and activities in schools for learning how to minimize the effects of hazards.

(k) Develop training and learning programmes in disaster risk reduction targeted at specific sectors (development planners, emergency managers, local government officials, etc.).

(l) Promote community-based training initiatives, considering the role of volunteers, as appropriate, to enhance local capacities to mitigate and cope with disasters.

(m) Ensure equal access to appropriate training and educational opportunities for women and vulnerable constituencies; promote gender and cultural sensitivity training as integral components of education and training for disaster risk reduction.

(iii) Research

(n) Develop improved methods for predictive multi-risk assessments and socioeconomic cost–benefit analysis of risk reduction actions at all levels; incorporate these methods into decision-making processes at regional, national and local levels.

(o) Strengthen the technical and scientific capacity to develop and apply methodologies, studies and models to assess vulnerabilities to and the impact of geological, weather, water and climate-related hazards, including the improvement of regional monitoring capacities and assessments.

(iv) Public awareness

(p) Promote the engagement of the media in order to stimulate a culture of disaster resilience and strong community involvement in sustained public education campaigns and public consultations at all levels of society.

4. Reduce the underlying risk factors

19. Disaster risks related to changing social, economic, environmental conditions and land use, and the impact of hazards associated with geological events, weather, water, climate variability and climate change, are addressed in sector development planning and programmes as well as in post-disaster situations.

Key activities:

(i) Environmental and natural resource management

(a) Encourage the sustainable use and management of ecosystems, including through better land-use planning and development activities to reduce risk and vulnerabilities.

(b) Implement integrated environmental and natural resource management approaches that incorporate disaster risk reduction, including structural and non-structural measures,14 such as integrated flood management and appropriate management of fragile ecosystems.

14 “Structural measures refer to any physical construction to reduce or avoid possible impacts of hazards, which include engineering measures and construction of hazard-resistant and protective structures and infrastructure. Non-structural measures refer to policies, awareness, knowledge

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(c) Promote the integration of risk reduction associated with existing climate variability and future climate change into strategies for the reduction of disaster risk and adaptation to climate change, which would include the clear identification of climate-related disaster risks, the design of specific risk reduction measures and an improved and routine use of climate risk information by planners, engineers and other decision-makers.

(ii) Social and economic development practices

(d) Promote food security as an important factor in ensuring the resilience of communities to hazards, particularly in areas prone to drought, flood, cyclones and other hazards that can weaken agriculture-based livelihoods.

(e) Integrate disaster risk reduction planning into the health sector; promote the goal of “hospitals safe from disaster” by ensuring that all new hospitals are built with a level of resilience that strengthens their capacity to remain functional in disaster situations and implement mitigation measures to reinforce existing health facilities, particularly those providing primary health care.

(f) Protect and strengthen critical public facilities and physical infrastructure, particularly schools, clinics, hospitals, water and power plants, communications and transport lifelines, disaster warning and management centres, and culturally important lands and structures through proper design, retrofitting and re-building, in order to render them adequately resilient to hazards.

(g) Strengthen the implementation of social safety-net mechanisms to assist the poor, the elderly and the disabled, and other populations affected by disasters. Enhance recovery schemes including psycho-social training programmes in order to mitigate the psychological damage of vulnerable populations, particularly children, in the aftermath of disasters.

(h) Incorporate disaster risk reduction measures into post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation processes15 and use opportunities during the recovery phase to develop capacities that reduce disaster risk in the long term, including through the sharing of expertise, knowledge and lessons learned.

(i) Endeavor to ensure, as appropriate, that programmes for displaced persons do not increase risk and vulnerability to hazards.

(j) Promote diversified income options for populations in high-risk areas to reduce their vulnerability to hazards, and ensure that their income and assets are not undermined by development policy and processes that increase their vulnerability to disasters.

(k) Promote the development of financial risk-sharing mechanisms, particularly insurance and reinsurance against disasters.

(l) Promote the establishment of public–private partnerships to better engage the private sector in disaster risk reduction activities; encourage the private sector to foster a culture of disaster prevention, putting greater emphasis on, and allocating resources to, pre-disaster activities such as risk assessments and early warning systems development, public commitment, and methods and operating practices, including participatory mechanisms and the provision of information, which can reduce risk and related impacts”. UN/ISDR. Geneva, 2004.

15 According to the principles contained in General Assembly resolution 46/182.

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(m) Develop and promote alternative and innovative financial instruments for addressing disaster risk.

(iii) Land-use planning and other technical measures

(n) Incorporate disaster risk assessments into the urban planning and management of disaster-prone human settlements, in particular highly populated areas and quickly urbanizing settlements. The issues of informal or non-permanent housing and the location of housing in high-risk areas should be addressed as priorities, including in the framework of urban poverty reduction and slum-upgrading programmes.

(o) Mainstream disaster risk considerations into planning procedures for major infrastructure projects, including the criteria for design, approval and implementation of such projects and considerations based on social, economic and environmental impact assessments.

(p) Develop, upgrade and encourage the use of guidelines and monitoring tools for the reduction of disaster risk in the context of land-use policy and planning.

(q) Incorporate disaster risk assessment into rural development planning and management, in particular with regard to mountain and coastal flood plain areas, including through the identification of land zones that are available and safe for human settlement,

(r) Encourage the revision of existing or the development of new building codes, standards, rehabilitation and reconstruction practices at the national or local levels, as appropriate, with the aim of making them more applicable in the local context, particularly in informal and marginal human settlements, and reinforce the capacity to implement, monitor and enforce such codes, through a consensus-based approach, with a view to fostering disaster-resistant structures.

5. Strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels

20. At times of disaster, impacts and losses can be substantially reduced if authorities, individuals and communities in hazard-prone areas are well prepared and ready to act and are equipped with the knowledge and capacities for effective disaster management.

Key activities:

(a) Strengthen policy, technical and institutional capacities in regional, national and local disaster management, including those related to technology, training, and human and material resources.

(b) Promote and support dialogue, exchange of information and coordination among early warning, disaster risk reduction, disaster response, development and other relevant agencies and institutions at all levels, with the aim of fostering a holistic approach towards disaster risk reduction.

(c) Strengthen and when necessary develop coordinated regional approaches, and create or upgrade regional policies, operational mechanisms, plans and communication systems to prepare for and ensure rapid and effective disaster response in situations that exceed national coping capacities.

(d) Prepare or review and periodically update disaster preparedness and contingency plans and policies at all levels, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable areas and groups. Promote regular disaster preparedness exercises, including evacuation drills, with a view to ensuring rapid and effective disaster response and access to essential food and non-food relief supplies, as appropriate, to local needs.

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(e) Promote the establishment of emergency funds, where and as appropriate, to support response, recovery and preparedness measures.

(f) Develop specific mechanisms to engage the active participation and ownership of relevant stakeholders, including communities, in disaster risk reduction, in particular building on the spirit of volunteerism.

From its various informational guidelines and narratives on a global platform for disaster risk reduction, the United Nations states: 

What is the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction?

The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GP), which takes place every two years, is the global forum for accelerating world-wide momentum on disaster risk reduction. As the primary gathering for the world's disaster risk community, it brings together Governments, UN, international regional organizations and institutions, NGOs, scientific/academic institutions and the private sector. It is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly (A/RES/62/192) to:

assess progress made in the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action enhance awareness of disaster risk reduction share experience and lessons from good practice, and identify remaining gaps and recommend targeted action to accelerate national and local implementation.

The first, second and third sessions of the Global Platform have seen progressive participation from more than 163 Governments and 162 Organizations. The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction Secretariat (UNISDR) is the UN entity responsible for coordinating the organization of the Global Platform and supporting the regional platforms and Ministerial meetings on disaster risk reduction.

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