Disaster in a post-pandemic world

AN “earthquake” shakes Tanjung Benoa village in Bali and hundreds of elementary students hide under their desks. Once the earthquake stops and a tsunami warning is announced, they run into a four- story hotel building near the school. They take their schoolbags with them, putting them on their heads to protect them from falling debris.

This was a simulation for thousands of students on Tuesday as part of a tsunami preparedness drill that was held during the fifth World Reconstruction Conference (WRC5) in Bali.

The drill was held by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Indonesia’s Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) and the Badung Disaster Management Agency.

The conference was organised in conjunction with the Seventh Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR).

UN deputy secretary-general Amina J. Mohammed underlined the importance of early action to mitigate the impact of disasters.

Amina said the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis, as disasters posing a major threat to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, should change the world’s risk calculus.

“The pandemic’s impacts serve as a reminder of how disasters touch every aspect of life, from health to education, to work and livelihoods, to gender equality, to nutrition, to peace and security,” she said.

“Disaster has the potential, in minutes and hours, to wipe away the results of years and decades of development work. That is why it is so urgent that we do everything we can to mitigate the risks disasters pose.

“Students in Bali, like hundreds of millions of students around the world, showed incredible resilience and adaptability in the face of the pandemic.

“Together, we found ways to protect and support one another, to ensure studies could continue, and we did our best to prevent anyone from being left behind,” she added.

The WRC5 was held on Monday and Tuesday in Bali under the theme “Reconstructing for a sustainable future: Building resilience through recovery in a Covid-19 Transformed World”.

It provided a global platform for policymakers, experts, practitioners from governments, international organisations, non-governmental organisations, academia and the private sector to come together to share experiences in disaster recovery and reconstruction and take forward the policy dialogue.

It noted how over two years since the pandemic began, the world had profoundly changed, as had the opportunities for social, infrastructural and economic recovery.

The impacts of the pandemic have been compounded by other natural disasters, conflicts and crises.

The WRC is traditionally organised by three partners, namely, the European Union, the UNDP and the World Bank in conjunction with the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. This year, the International Recovery Platform joined as a partner.

“Post-disaster recovery is an opportunity to reset the development pathway toward a greener and more resilient future,” said Asako Okai, UN assistant secretary-general and director of the UNDP’s Crisis Bureau.

“Covid-19 has been such a big challenge. We need to do things differently. Many lessons have emerged from the last two years, so it is time for us to pick what we can do.” — The Jakarta Post/ANN

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