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Posts Tagged ‘risk’

Life is full of unexpected events and being prepared for them makes the difference between success and failure. This is true at any level: individual, local, or governmental. Responding to unexpected events successfully involves improving preparedness by, among other things, clarifying roles and responsibilities around management of risks.

Most research has focussed, so far, on management of risk at the local or governmental levels and very little has been dedicated to the individual level. If that is true at the response stage of an unwonted event, almost nothing has been done at the preparation stage.

Making individuals living antennas for the detection of an incoming event may be too ambitious, although there are examples of it. For instance, in Spain there is a network of volunteers that measure weather conditions throughout the territory and are a source of daily information to prevent climatic events. Creating such a network for any type of event could reinforce the resilience our society dealing with high impact events. Such living antennas could be trained to lead their neighbours in the early response to a high impact event. For such network to be effective, the components have to be deployed across the territory, making in-person training very expensive. E-learning could be the answer for training a vast number of living antenna volunteers to manage High Impact – Low Probability (HILP) events.

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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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