October 13 is observed as the International Day for Disaster Reduction. It started in 1989 following a call by the United Nations General Assembly for a day to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction. The day celebrates how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters and raising awareness about the importance of reining in the risks that they face. The day is an opportunity to acknowledge the progress being made toward reducing disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health, as per the United Nations.
Disasters, many of which are exacerbated by climate change, have a negative impact on investment in sustainable development and the desired outcomes.
Natural disasters are, of course, beyond human control. However action and inaction by people can profoundly affect their outcome, exacerbating or mitigating their effects on the populace. This point was forcefully made in the United Nations Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction. Although natural calamities strike the wealthier nations too, the risk of death and economic loss from such events is heavily concentrated in developing countries and within these countries, it is the poor who disproportionately suffer.
Pre-emptive risk reduction is the key. There is need for sound response mechanisms after the event. Government must find practical ways to reduce vulnerability to a variety of natural hazards that claim many lives and hit economies. Jammu and Kashmir in the recent past saw several cloud bursts, taking heavy toll.
Also India has been divided into four zones viz. zone V, IV, III and II according to the seismic zoning map of India prepared by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) based on historical seismicity and strong ground motions.
Out of these zones, Zone V exhibits the highest seismic risk and zone II has the least.
All districts of Kashmir valley and Doda district fall in Seismic Zone-V, and the rest of the districts fall in Seismic Zone-IV.
While occurrence of earthquakes or some other natural calamities cannot be predicted accurately with existing technology, there is need for preparedness on part of the government and people beforehand as well as need for sound response.
Given the high vulnerability, there is no ordinary escape for the region from susceptibility to earthquakes and other calamities. However, the foreknowledge of potential danger areas can help mitigate the impact of a disaster.
While it is an established fact that disasters hit hardest at the local level with the potential to cause loss of life and great social and economic upheaval, disasters, many of which are exacerbated by climate change, have a negative impact on investment in sustainable development and the desired outcomes.