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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
On the web
Article Type: On the web From: Disaster Prevention and Management, Volume 20, Issue 1
Below are brief descriptions of some of the resources on hazards and disasters that have recently come to the attention of the Natural Hazards Center. Web links are provided for items that are available free online.
School Emergency and Disaster Preparedness: Guidance Note
UNISDR, One Million Safe Schools and Hospitals Campaign, 2010, 30 pp., free download, www.unisdr.org/europe/publications/v.php?id=15655
This is an international guide to help schools prepare for emergencies and disasters from natural hazards. It takes administrators through creating an emergency committee, designing a disaster plan, knowing who can help and how, and conducting emergency drills. The guidance is clear, thorough, and on point. It also provides a list of references for further planning and first aid.
School Disaster Response Drills: Models and Templates
Risk RED for Earthquake Country Alliance. 2009, 40 pp., free download, www.riskred.org/schools.html
This publication delivers what it promises: templates for schools to prepare for disasters. It offers checklists for staff expertise, emergency contacts, assessment and planning, response capacity and all the other details needed in a school during an emergency. It emphasizes earthquake drills, but offers guidance for other situations as well.
Weathering Climate Change: Insurance Solutions for More Resilient Communities
Swiss Re, 2010, 16 pp., free download, www.swissre.com/rethinking/climate/Weathering_climate_change.html
“More than 3.4 billion people worldwide are already threatened by natural hazards, most of them in the developing world,” the opening of Weathering Climate Change says in large, cheerful, yellow type. “Climate change could make matters even worse.” Innovative insurance efforts can help cushion the blows that seem sure to fall on these folks, Swiss Re says.
But the report looks at a detailed risk and adaptation analysis that paints a brighter picture. This analysis “tells another, more encouraging story about the challenges of climate adaptation. In the countries studied, anywhere between 40 and 68 percent – and in one instance close to all – of the average annual expected losses can be prevented cost-effectively through known and readily available adaptation measures. These include improved drainage and irrigation systems, sea barriers and enhanced building codes, vegetation buffers and disaster awareness campaigns, among many others.” The Swiss Re report provides several pages of case study on the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility which “provides 16 Caribbean governments with short-term liquidity in the event of hurricanes and earthquakes.”
When the devastating earthquake hit Haiti earlier this year, the fund paid out $8 million. “Measured against the loss of life and devastation on the island,” the report admits, “the $8 million payout was not a major sum of money. It did, however, provide much needed liquidity to get the wheels of government turning again. In addition, the Haitian catastrophe has highlighted the potential of parametric insurance to help countries plan for and pre-finance natural disasters as part of a comprehensive disaster risk management strategy.”
But not everyone is so enamored of the CCRIF. The group Christian Aid (www.christianaid.org.uk) issued a report on insurance’s role in climate adaptation. They found, “At present, CCRIF appears unresponsive to community needs and a poor fit between investment and return. Countries paying premiums for hurricane coverage can experience severe and repeated floods, storm surges and wind damage without qualifying for a CCRIF payout.
“This view is supported by the experience of two of the research countries, Haiti and Jamaica, which suffered significant damage during 2007 and 2008 when they were hit by hurricanes. They were unable to claim any CCRIF payouts despite suffering considerable damage, including loss of life, displacement and destroyed livelihoods.”
Adapting to Climate Change: A Planning Guide for State Coastal Managers
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, 138 pp., free download, coastalmanagement.noaa.gov/climate/adaptation.html
For most people involved in coastal planning, this guide will start at chapter three where the authors start in on the planning process. The first 20 pages or so lay out the potential impacts of climate change. It is essential to include this, of course, but it seems unlikely that any coastal planners are only now awakening Rip van Winkle-like to the perils facing the coasts.
So that is the why. But the rest of the project is the “how.” The book moves logically from planning and goal setting through vulnerability assessment, adaptation, and plan implement and maintenance. The book also cites a wide variety of publications, training, and resources to achieve the goals set out.
NOAA was a little slow to acknowledge the whole climate change thing, but this guide is an admirable practical effort in catching up.
Earthquake Disaster Prevention Guidebook
Shizuoka Prefecture, 2010, 15 pp., free download, www.equakes.pref.shizuoka.jp/english/contents.html
There has not been an earthquake in the Tokai area in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Japan’s Shizuoka Prefecture since 1854. But historically, they have occurred every 100 to 150 years. This guidebook warns, “A massive earthquake is expected to occur in Shizuoka in the near future.”
The prefecture’s guidebook provides a very accessible preparation manual for getting ready for this quake. It could also be used as a more general guide to earthquake preparation – you do not have to live in Japan to appreciate its lessons. It tells you what kind of shaking you can expect from a magnitude 8.0 quake. It has clever and clear cartoon illustrations describing the actions to take. These illustrations extend to thorough emergency checklists.
Japan has considerable experience in dealing with evacuations of, the elderly, and others with mobility issues. That experience is also reflected in this guide. (And yes, it is available in English.)
Dam Safety and Earthquakes
International Commission on Large Dams Committee on Seismic Aspects of Dam Design, 2010, Three pages, free download, www.preventionweb.net/english/professional/publications/v.php?id=15259
This brief publication reviews the design of large storage dams to resist earthquake shaking. “The main concerns are related to the existing dams, which either have not been designed against earthquakes – this applies mainly to small and old dams – and dams built using design criteria and methods of analyses which are considered as outdated today,” the report says. “Therefore, it is not clear if these dams satisfy today’s seismic safety criteria. There is a need that the seismic safety of existing dams be checked and modern methods of seismic hazard assessment be used.” The paper provides further resources in the form of a list of bulletins that can guide quake planning for large dams.
(Natural Hazards Observer, November 2010)