Archive for agosto 2021

I have been hearing for a long time that “fires are put out in winter”. What that means is that the work of clearing and cleaning the forest must be done during winter, to prevent fires during the summer. Equally, recovery or reconstruction after a disaster has to be worked out before the disaster occurs.

Priority 4 of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 deals precisely with this. A quote from the introductory paragraph is enough to focus my point: “Disasters have demonstrated that the recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction phase, which needs to be prepared ahead of a disaster, is a critical opportunity to ‘Build Back Better’, including through integrating disaster risk reduction into development measures,”

I know that we are still, probably, in the response phase of the prevention, preparedness, readiness, response, and recovery continuum that summarises crisis management. Nevertheless, the time to think about the recovery phase is coming, if it has not come already.

Again, as in my previous post dealing with population involvement during the emergency, there is not, to my knowledge, anything being done for the “implementation of normative frameworks, standards and plans for disaster risk reduction” involving stakeholders (civil society, volunteers, organized voluntary work organizations and community-based organizations).

The politicians are engaged in the “blame game” of trying to make the political rival responsible for almost 5 million deaths. Meanwhile, nothing is being done to inform the population on how to proceed when the next pandemic, or for that matter the next health emergency, comes. My only hope that something meaningful will be done lies in the current HORIZON EUROPE call on Disaster-Resilient Society for Europe.

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In 2019 the WHO released the document “Health Emergency and Disaster Risk Management Framework” (Health-EDRM)[1]. At that time no one had heard of SARS-CoV-2 while, at the same time, it was a premonition of things to come.

A recent paper by Emily Ying Yang Chan et al[2] points out the need to reinforce a bottom-up approach to Health-EDRM in line with my previous post “Citizens’ role in hazard management[3].

A quick review of the Health-EDRM document (see Bullet 5.9) shows how the authors understood the role of the community in an emergency: “Participation of communities in risk assessments to identify local hazards and vulnerabilities can identify actions to reduce health risks prior to an emergency occurring. … The local population will also play the lead role in recovery and reconstruction efforts.”

It is clear that a year and a half after the explosion of Covid-19, “the local population” has been at best a passive actor in the fight against the pandemic. Its participation in the prevention, preparedness, readiness, response, and recovery continuum has been marginal.

I argue in the above-mentioned post, “Citizens’ role in hazard management”, that the involvement of the population should be based on its ability to identify a hazard before it becomes a real risk. For that it is necessary to involve the population by developing diffusion tools covering an array of specific hazards. To my knowledge, nothing existed in this area for a pandemic and, what is even worst, nothing is being done.

If anything has to be learnt from the development of the pandemic, it is that none of the actors were prepared to fight it effectively. But the population was taken completely by surprise, going from normal day to day business to complete lockdown. The population collaborated passively throughout this situation. The problem remains that, having an almost complete lack of knowledge of what the full consequences of the pandemic are, a large percentage of the population has embraced the so called “freedom” with open arms.

The whole structure of population involvement has fallen into pieces. Embracing with open arms the new “freedom” is the exact opposite of what involvement of the population in fighting the pandemic should mean. A large percentage of the population is, with “open arms”, exercising its “freedom” to help spread the SARS-CoV-2.

[1] https://www.who.int/hac/techguidance/preparedness/health-emergency-and-disaster-risk-management-framework-eng.pdf accessed 23/07/21

[2] https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)01233-2  accessed 23/07/21

[3] https://cgarciamanagement.wordpress.com/2021/07/22/citizens-role-in-hazard-management/ accessed 23/07/21

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