Online from: 2010
Subject Area: Built Environment
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Article citation: Dilanthi Amaratunga, Richard Haigh, (2010) "Consequences, challenges and opportunities", International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. 1 Iss: 2, pp. -
Since the first issue went to press, the need for the journal was further reaffirmed by the tragic events in Haiti. The scale of the recent Haiti disaster left even veteran disaster responders stunned, people who had seen firsthand the savagery of nature elsewhere, in the Americas, in sub-Saharan Africa and in countries such as Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan and China. The magnitude-7 earthquake – the biggest to hit Haiti for 200 years – may have left as many as 200,000 people dead and up to a million homeless. But figures cannot express what happened. The capital, Port-au-Prince, and outlying areas lay in ruins (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 2010). The disaster of Haiti is not the earthquake. What has taken place in Haiti is what happens when an extreme natural event occurs in the lives of people who are already frighteningly vulnerable. The biggest challenge now is to help Haiti recover from the earthquake and the need for rebuilding the community, meeting the evident needs of the most vulnerable people and filling key gaps in Haiti’s reconstruction regarding shelter and relief, water and sanitation, health and recovery. These are various options but the primary goals are clear: rebuilding the community, meeting the evident needs of the most vulnerable people, and filling key gaps in Haiti’s reconstruction (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 2010). Undoubtedly, the built environment field has a vital role to play in the long-term recovery of Haiti.
In this context, the second issue of the International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment provides a series of international perspectives on “Earthquake-disaster preparedness”; “Post-disaster housing reconstruction comparative study of donor- vs owner-driven approaches”; “Waste management as a ‘Lifeline’? A New Zealand case study analysis” “Assessment of potential tsunamigenic seismic hazard to Sri Lanka”; and “Feasibility studies for optimum establishment of rural occupancy in mountainous regions”. In this issue, there are contributions from Canada, Ghana, Sri Lanka, Argentina, UK, Iran, New Zealand and Australia.
In “Earthquake-disaster preparedness”, Nii K. Allotey, Godwin Arku and Paulina E. Amponsah discuss a case study built around Accra, illustrating an increased level of seismic risk in the event of a probable large earthquake due to uncoordinated and unplanned growth. The authors examine the earthquake risk reduction strategies implemented over the years in Accra, in responding to the increasing levels of risks posed by earthquake occurrences. They draw lessons from South American and Central Asian cities’ disaster mitigation programs.
Gayani Karunasena and Raufdeen Rameezdeen’s “Post-disaster housing reconstruction comparative study of donor- vs owner-driven approaches”, examines the strengths and weaknesses of two strategies for post-disaster housing reconstruction: donor and owner driven. The authors highlight the need for building regulations and technical assistance in order to overcome the limitations associated with the owner-driven approach.
In “Feasibility studies for optimum establishment of rural occupancy in mountainous regions”, Reza Valizadeh and Mahmoud Elmi discuss the premise that by adopting dogmatic measures and previous planning, various incidents and disastrous fatal and financial effects may be prevented. Based on a detailed case study carried out in the “Badleh Kuh” village of “Damghan”, they summarise findings from feasibility studies for optimum establishment of rural occupancies subjected to natural hazards as a preventive plan for carrying out prompt and planned measures. Their experiences show that Iran’s rural settlements are more vulnerable to natural disasters, in contrast to urban area. This has also been highlighted in the recent experiences in Haiti.
Janaka Wijetunge’s “Assessment of potential tsunamigenic seismic hazard to Sri Lanka” emphasises the need for detailed assessments of tsunami hazard from potential seismic activity in all active subduction zones around the Indian Ocean Basin. Wijetunge purports that such an assessment around countries such as Sri Lanka would help establish plausible tsunamigenic seismic scenarios that could cause destruction in the far-field. In this context, Wijetunge discusses past seismic history as well as the potential for occurrence of tsunamigenic mega-thrust earthquakes in the future in active subduction zones in the Indian Ocean, backed by a tentative history of past tsunami events in Sri Lanka for which recorded evidence is available.
In “Waste management as a ‘Lifeline’? A New Zealand case study analysis”, Charlotte Brown, Mark Milke and Erica Seville highlight the importance of critical infrastructure in a disaster response and recovery situation. The authors report that within the context of New Zealand, there are several mechanisms to improve the responses of lifeline service providers in a disaster situation, including pre-event planning and coordination groups and legislative provisions for timely response in an emergency. However, waste management is not formally included in either the coordination process or the legislative provisions for lifelines. The authors consider the notion of whether or not waste management should be included in these legislative provisions. They conclude that waste management should be included and recognise that organisational complexity in the waste management systems and the likely need to expand pre-disaster waste management services to deal with large amounts of disaster generated waste, would be challenging.
Aleksandra Kazmierczak and Erik Bichard’s “Investigating homeowners’ interest in property-level flood protection”, seeks to provide empirical evidence for the reasons underpinning the low uptake of flood protection measures and potential solutions. While many of the properties threatened by floods in England are protected through existing or planned structural defences, it is estimated that about half of the households currently in areas identified as at significant risk of flooding, might remain unprotected. The authors report that homeowners did not make the connection between flooding and possible damages, and underestimated the future risks to their property.
In addition to these research papers, this issue also includes a field report by Maximiliano Korstanje entitled, “Commentaries on our new ways of perceiving disasters”. In this insightful piece, Korstanje examines the phenomenon of terror, risk and threat perception.
Finally, the issue contains two news reports. First, “UNISDR resilient cities campaign 2010-2011”, reported by Helena Molin Valdes, Deputy Director, United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Secretariat (UNISDR), introduces a Global Campaign on Making Cities Resilient. The campaign will especially target local governments and elected leaders and aims at building new partnerships and alliances between local communities and grass root organisations, local and national authorities, and development organisations. The campaign directly addresses the types of problems that left Haiti so vulnerable:
Had investment been made in quakeresistant buildings and other risk reduction measures, far fewer lives would have been lost in Haiti. It is a message relevant around the world, where only a miniscule amount of official development assistance is spent on proactive attempts to reduce vulnerabilities (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies,2010).
The International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment will continue to contribute to, and report on, the UNISDR campaign in the coming years.
The second news item is a Call for Abstracts for the International Conference on Disaster Management Organised by International Institute for Infrastructure Renewal and Reconstruction (IIIRR) to be held from 15-16 November 2010 at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, hosted by the College of Engineering, University of Hawaii.
In this context, this second issue continues to contribute towards establishing disasters and the built environment as a mature discipline.
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (2010), Haiti from Tragedy to Opportunity, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Geneva
Dilanthi Amaratunga, Richard Haigh