One of the things I’m doing at work is preparing for the International Day for Disaster Reduction on October 13th. This is the day when government, international organizations, and communities celebrate and promote reducing disasters. In most cases, “disasters” are labeled this way because it has an impact on human society. It’s kind of like saying, does a falling tree make a sound if no one is around to hear it? This is the thing with “disasters”, if there isn’t anyone around, can we still call it a disaster? For example, if the 2004 tsunami hit unpopulated areas, would it have been a “disaster” or would we have chalked it up to a natural and uncontrollable event (i.e. earthquake)?
So the International Day for Disaster Reduction is to have everyone recognized that there is something we can do about “disasters”. This year’s theme is to get cities, especially ones that are exposed to earthquakes, storms/hurricanes, floods, drought, and climate change, to prepare and plan better to reduce the affect of these physical and atmospheric hazards. There’s a big emphasis on improving land zoning policies and designing urban developments and plans that can improve disaster response or limit its impacts. If you want to know more about what’s happening for this Day, visit the UNISDR International Day for Disaster Reduction webpage. If you want to know more about what cities are planning to do about disasters, visit the Making Cities Resilient Campaign.
I’ve worked in both situations – before and after a disaster. Of course the aftermath brings in a lot of money and aid because of the shock and awe following a disaster. But if we really want to make a difference, money and aid should be put towards making sure that cities and communities are prepared and have plans in place to limit disaster damage (in deaths, injured, infrastructure destruction and economic collapse). It’s really exciting and a adrenaline rush to be helping after a disaster, providing humanitarian relief and aid. But at some point I’m wondering if we’re only applying a band-aid solution by focusing too much on the aftermath.
Anyway, here are some photos I’ve taken in the past couple of weeks representing Geneva’s skyline… luckily the weather has been cooperative.