Disaster preparedness has long been recognized as a crucial aspect of ensuring the safety and well-being of communities globally. With the increasing occurrence of both natural and man-made disasters, ranging from hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods, to industrial accidents and armed conflicts, the need to be ready for such eventualities is more pressing than ever. The relevance of disaster preparedness is not only about immediate response and relief but also holds a deeper significance when it comes to sustainable development. The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, encapsulated in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), serves as an aspirational roadmap for global prosperity, ensuring that no one is left behind. At first glance, the relationship between disaster preparedness and SDGs might appear tangential, but a closer examination reveals that they are inextricably linked.
SDG 1 aims to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. Poverty is not just about a lack of financial resources; it is also about vulnerability. When disasters strike, it is often the poorest and most marginalized who are hardest hit, lacking the resources or infrastructure to protect themselves or recover swiftly. By bolstering disaster preparedness, we are directly bolstering resilience in these communities, mitigating the effects of disasters and ensuring that the vicious cycle of poverty is not exacerbated.
SDG 3 emphasizes ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being. Disaster preparedness plays a vital role in this, ensuring that when calamities strike, communities have swift access to medical aid, clean water, and sanitation. Preparedness activities, from stockpiling essential medicines to training first responders, are crucial for minimizing casualties and preventing the outbreak of post-disaster diseases.
The connection can also be drawn to SDG 11, which seeks to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. Urban areas are becoming increasingly vulnerable to disasters, especially with the looming threats of climate change. Floods, heatwaves, and rising sea levels can devastate densely populated areas. Therefore, ensuring that our cities are prepared, with resilient infrastructure and effective early warning systems, directly supports the goals of creating sustainable urban environments.
Moreover, SDG 13, which is about taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, ties closely with disaster preparedness. The adverse effects of climate change are making extreme weather events more frequent and intense. Being prepared for these changing patterns, from building flood barriers to creating heat-resistant crops, ensures that societies can better cope with the unpredictable challenges posed by our changing climate.
Furthermore, the overarching principle of the SDGs is the commitment to "leave no one behind." This sentiment echoes loudly in the realm of disaster preparedness. Effective preparedness ensures that all members of society, especially the most vulnerable – women, children, the elderly, and those with disabilities – are considered and protected.
While disaster preparedness might not be explicitly stated in each of the 17 SDGs, its essence runs deep within the foundation of the goals. For the world to truly achieve sustainable development, resilience against disasters is paramount. This means investing in preparedness, infrastructure, training, and resources that ensure every community, no matter how remote or marginalized, has the tools to face and recover from adversities, aligning directly with the aspirations of the SDGs.
Integrating Mental Health and Disability Into Public Health Disaster Preparedness and Response, 2022, Pages 147-169
Public Health in Practice, Volume 2, November 2021
Cyclones and tropical storms are important threats to public health faced by countries worldwide as they are associated with infectious disease outbreaks, unsafe food and water to mention a few. To help meet these challenges, the World Health Organization encourages countries to strengthen their capacities for health emergency and disaster risk management incorporating measures for prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. In this letter, we unpack the case of Zimbabwe's preparedness and response to cyclones and tropical storms.
Earthquakes and Sustainable Infrastructure, Neodeterministic (NDSHA) Approach Guarantees Prevention Rather Than Cure, 2022, Pages 77-95
Enhancing Disaster Preparedness, From Humanitarian Architecture to Community Resilience, 2021, Pages 209-222
Enhancing Disaster Preparedness, 2021, Pages 259-272