Water and Disasters: “Prepare for the unexpected”

22 March 2012

One year after the Fukishima catastrophe, the natural catastrophe links to water appeared as a subject of major preoccupation on an international scale, more so in the north than in the south. Political will power is key.

On Thursday 16 March 2012, a high level panel on water and disasters insisted on the importance of natural disaster prevention. The conference began with a video presented by the Prince of Japan Nahurito to revisit the earthquake, the tsunami and the resulting nuclear accident one year after Fukushima, then inviting the panel to extract the lessons learnt from the past. He underlined the incredible resilience of his people, “our ancestors have faced, struggled and overcome similar difficulties. Despite enormous losses, problems and sadness, we have encouraged to move forward because our society has been built on such unrelenting efforts of the people to mitigate and recover from disasters.”

The prestigious guests unanimously recommended a preventive approach to disasters, putting forward the examples of the Dutch initiatives.
According to these experts, the Japanese catastrophe teaches us that a holistic approach to risks such as the multi-catastrophes, or multi-hazard approach of the international Strategy of the United Nations for the prevention of catastrophes (UNISDR) is essential. “It is necessary to prepare with unforeseeable,” declared Jose Luis Irigoyen, Director for Transport, Water, Info & Communications Technology (World Bank).

Benoît Miribel, President of Action Against Hunger (ACF), also insisted on the necessary coordination between actors, and the sharing of experiences and practices. Disasters are indifferent to whether a country is developed or not. Genuine international solidarity is indispensable for their prevention and mitigation. “Collective local competences need to be reinforced,” concludes Benoît Miribel.

We hope to see States engaged

The importance of the educating the public was stressed, in particular by Maria Mutagamba, the Minister of Water and Environment, Uganda. Vis-à-vis the more socio-economic than technical challenges, “it is our duty to inform our people”, she insists. The transparency of decisions taken by the governments is the key of the good prevention policies.

The President of ACF thus invited all actors, including civil society, to closely follow the commitments made by the State. The message is clear, “we hope to see States engage.”

Political will proves again to be essential to the development of effective solutions.

Bulle En

Post-Forum Highlights

The Forum outcomes

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