Dealing with disasters the smart way


WE often hear this comment from disaster management officials: We hope to learn much on how to respond quickly to natural disasters.
One thing that has been lacking in the support of the work of the National Disaster Office is consistent funding and a clear direction.
If these issues are sorted, then the tag line will change to: We are upgrading from this to that.
Our disaster management officials have been rubbing shoulders with their colleagues from other Apec economies and have been saying that PNG can borrow ideas from those economies and tailor them to suit Papua New Guinea.
This is one of the many positive aspects of hosting Apec – there is always something to learn and gain.
During each Apec meeting leading up to the leaders’ summit in November, developed economies will share their experiences on economic growth and how to create policies and approaches that can result in better developments and benefits right across the country, from the urban centres to the rural areas.
It is already common know-ledge that PNG is prone to natural disasters like earthquakes, drought, flooding and volcanic eruptions.
Advanced preparations are important when it comes to natural disasters, and while they are unpredictable, it is always better to be prepared for an event before it happens than to be too late in dealing with damage, death and the reconstruction that follow.
The argument that we don’t have enough funds or resources to put into disaster preparedness is unacceptable. Disasters not only cost lives, they also have a severe socio-economic impact on the country.
Disaster management officials should prepare beforehand in order to tackle hardships when a disaster strikes. In fact, they should be prepared all the time – before a disaster strikes, during the event itself and afterwards.
Natural disasters that occur around PNG are mostly weather-related and people should be alert to deal with the situation quickly.
The time is also right to start discussions on a National Rescue Coordination Centre which can coordinate the work of the Fire Services, PNG Defence Force, PNG Royal Constabulary, National Maritime Safety Authority, National Road Safety Authority, Accident Investigation Commission and Health Services, among others, in times of accidents, disasters or during an emergency situation requiring the involvement of search and rescue.
The whole issue requires a holistic approach and the support of the Government so that when the time comes, we can respond effectively to emergency situations, including those caused by natural disasters.
Communications and coordination are very important to addressing natural disasters.
The recently launched and endorsed disaster framework 2017-2030 by the National Disaster Centre will not be successful unless disaster coordinators and disaster management officials in the provinces know that for funds to be released, they need to report early and abide by reporting rules. Only then will the channel of communication become clearer.

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