Breaking silos in disaster management

Jamaica remembers Hurricane Gilbert, but is the island prepared for a Dorian?

On September 12, 1988, at the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, a storm named Gilbert hit a surprised and largely unprepared Jamaica. The eye passed over the island in about eight hours, from the eastern to the westernmost tip.

It has been 31 years since the Category 3 hurricane devastated parts of Jamaica; those old enough to remember reminisced, while others reflected on whether the island could withstand a much stronger storm today…


After Dorian, disease is next threat on shattered Bahamian island

Piles of debris, decaying human and animal corpses and fetid water on storm-hammered Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas are posing a new risk for those who survived Hurricane Dorian’s wrath: Disease.

As the insect population temporarily cleared when Dorian slammed into the islands on Sept. 1 with top sustained winds of 185 miles (298 km) per hour, water-borne and insect-borne diseases, including malaria and dengue fever, are fresh threats for those who remain or return to the island, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said in a report this week.

Disease outbreaks could further drive up the death toll of one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes on record, which currently stands at 50, but which Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said he expects to significantly increase.

Some 1,300 people have been registered as missing in the storm’s wake and the Bahamian Ministry of Health has requested 500 body bags, according to the PAHO.

Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham believed hundreds of people were dead on Abaco, the local Nassau Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday, citing an interview with Ingraham after he toured that island…


Breaking silos in disaster management

Annually, there were 260 natural disasters (both climate- and weather-related, as well as geophysical and biological) in developing countries between 2005 and 2016.

Historically, the agriculture and disaster-management sectors have acted independently. The farming industry has overseen the welfare of smallholders, with disaster management organisations only becoming involved when destructive events demand rescue and rehabilitation efforts.

However, such siloed and reactive approaches are out of step with the modern world.

Global development goals, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, seek to lessen the impacts of natural catastrophes and promote sustainable development.

But climate change is causing more intense and frequent disasters, which have the potential to de-rail progress. Achieving the goals under such circumstances calls for a more proactive and collaborative approach, in which sectors work together to plan for, and mitigate the worst impacts of, disasters…

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