It’s possible to get by in life and not take emergency preparedness seriously. People do that all the time, as only 43% of Americans have an action emergency plan in their home. It’s not ideal or recommended, as an emergency can happen to anyone at any time. You never know, and it’s better to be prepared and nothing happen to you than to not be prepared and something happen. However, as a country, it is essential to be prepared for whatever emergency may come. Many countries have built up their emergency infrastructure, in case of earthquakes, floods, etc. and even upgraded their defenses in the wake of this new wave of terror throughout the world. The following three countries, Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines, take their disaster preparedness very seriously, and have great resiliency in the face of emergencies.
On September 1, 1923, Japan’s Kanto Plain suffered an earthquake so massive, that Japan even considered moving its capital city. Buildings were leveled and many cities were left in ruins. This devastating earthquake registered a 7.9 and launched a typhoon, leaving thousands dead. Instead of moving the capital, Japan decided to rebuild. Wood and brick buildings were replaced with concrete and steel. They built motorways, a subway system, and an airport. Sitting near the Pacific Basin, Japan is incredibly prone to earthquakes, at least more so than most countries. This has motivated Japan to become arguably the world leader in disaster preparedness. Disaster Prevention Day has been held every year since 1960, on September 1st, the anniversary of the devastating earthquake. Many schools conduct an evacuation drill. The Prime Minister participates as well, stating “I would like to ensure that the government will prepare itself for disaster, together with the people, so that it can confidently say that ‘Providing is preventing’.” Japan has the world’s most advanced earthquake early-warning systems, as well as a tsunami warning service which consists of 300 sensors and 80 aquatic sensors that monitor seismic activity. Hundreds of earthquake and tsunami proof shelters are located on Japan’s east coast. Tsunami walls and floodgates have been built in some cities as well. Japan is constantly revising and upgrading its safety codes and building guidelines and is a great example of disaster preparedness.
Indonesia has a constant threat of floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruption, and tsunamis. Southern and western islands, specifically Sumatra and Java are at great risk to a number of hazards, including landslides. Close to 25 million people are living in informal settlements, exposed to disasters. Large earthquakes can cause up to three percent of GDP in damage. Food security and agricultural livelihoods are at risk from tsunamis, floods, droughts, and earthquakes. Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta is sinking at 3.5 centimeters per year, with approximately forty percent of the city below sea level, making it highly susceptible to flooding. So, what has Indonesia been doing to mitigate and prevent natural disasters? Many structures and processes have been put in place for disaster management. The Natural Disaster Management Agency was established in 2008. It has begun to be established in provinces and districts throughout the country, as local disaster management agencies. Indonesia received $558.4 million for development assistance for disaster risk reduction from 2006-2010, mostly funded by Japan. In 2012, roughly one percent of Indonesia’s GDP was allocated to disaster risk reduction investments, up from 0.6 percent in 2006. Indonesia is definitely on the right path to mitigating natural disasters, and definitely takes the threat seriously.
With over 7,000 islands and 36,000 kilometers of coastline, the Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to natural disasters. Seventy-four percent of the population is vulnerable to natural disasters. The capital city of Manila is considered at ‘extreme risk.’ Fifty-eight percent of disasters in the country are typhoons and storms, with flooding and landslides thirty-one percent. From 1983-2012, 24,281 people were killed by storms. Nearly 100 million people were affected by said storms. Economic losses totalled $5.9 billion. In order to stay on top of potential natural disasters, $834.6 million was received by the Philippines in disaster risk reduction grants from the international community (again, mostly from Japan). Over $500 million of that funding is estimated to have gone towards emergency response. The government has passed laws and policies regarding building codes and land-use management, however the regulations are not heavily enforced. There is a lot to work on regarding disaster preparedness in the Philippines, however things are definitely going in the right direction.
How does your country’s disaster preparedness compare with these three? What do you think can be done to improve your country’s disaster preparedness? Sound off in the comments below.
Barak Bacharach, SkySaver Content Manager