Do and Understand
Have you learned ALL the things that were taught to you this school year? Chances are no. Because knowing something does not necessarily mean you understand it.
Challenge: List down 10 lessons you think you know inside-out. Then try explaining it as clearly and concisely as possible to those who know nothing about the subject. You’ll find that it’s not that easy.
Confucius sums it up nicely: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
In the previous article, we explored what DRRM entails. You already have a general knowledge about what it is. Now we will talk about ways it is applied.
Simple as 1-2-3?
Looking at the DRRM equation, you will see three ways to reduce risks and manage disaster impacts: (1) prevent or mitigate hazards, (2) lessen people’s vulnerabilities, and (3) strengthen capacities to withstand hazards.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution in DRRM. But every DRRM approach starts with understanding disasters and raising our risk consciousness.
You can apply the DRRM approach in your daily life by asking four questions. What can cause me or the people around me harm? Where and when it could happen? How prone are we from harm? What can we do to prevent, prepare, respond, and recover from it?
To put things into perspective, let’s see how the government does it and compare it with what you can do as a student.
Check the Map
Governments begin by identifying the hazardous events people are exposed to like earthquakes and typhoons. Then they use all sorts of maps to spot locations that will likely be affected. Finally, they use tools to monitor and track the development hazards and ways it will unfold.
Similarly, you can start by assessing your environment for dangers you may face. Try this: Observe your surroundings to and from school, and while at school. Then draw one map each (Check this for sketching ideas). Now use those pictures to help you visualize what dangers you’re exposed to and how it could happen while traveling and at school. Step 1… complete!
Better Than The Cure
Preventing hazards and keeping people out of harm’s way are the best way to go. For instance, the government can pass laws prohibiting people to build, live, and work on top active fault lines. But it’s not always possible or feasible to avoid every hazard every time. Sometimes you have to learn how to live with it.
In this case, the government can enforce mitigation measures to decrease the impact of hazards. This could mean retrofitting buildings in the area with earthquake-resistant technologies so that it does not crumble when the ground shakes.
Let’s say your school is within an earthquake zone. What can you do then? Well, you can’t prevent the earthquake from occurring. But what steps can you take to mitigate its impact on you? How?
Pull out that school map you made and think of dangerous scenarios when the ground shakes. For each scenario, ask how much will it affect you and what are the chances it can happen. Make a priority list based on what is highly likely to occur with the greatest consequences to you.
Don’t worry too much whether you got it right or not. The important thing is you’re sharpening your disaster awareness by asking what could go wrong.
In the course of the exercise, you will discover what you know and what you don’t know about the risks you face. Being uninformed makes us susceptible to the disaster risks we face. So let curiosity lead you to learning new things.
Do Something About It
Governments don’t stop at finding ways to prevent or mitigate disaster risks. They also run different programs to lessen people’s vulnerability to it, and to strengthen their capacity to prepare, respond, and recover from disasters. Examples include running nation-wide earthquake drills, designating field hospitals, and insuring against losses after calamities.
How does this relate to you?
To lessen your vulnerability and build up capacity, you need to address two things: what you will do when it happens and what you will do after it happens.
What skills or stuff do you need to respond and recover? Perhaps learning first aid and carrying an emergency kit inside your bag would come in handy. What drills do you actively participate in? Take “duck, cover and hold” seriously. It can end up keeping you safe.
Who can you ask for help and what arrangements do you need to make with your family? Maybe identifying a safe meeting place in advance should everyone get separated during a disaster. Remember the map to and from school that you drew? It’ll be useful in finding a spot. And since you drew it, you will likely recall the directions.
The key here is to practice, practice, and practice. The more you do it, the sharper you will be in coming up with solutions. Try doing the process again. But this time for your household. It could be a fun family bonding experience.
Want to learn more about Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM)? Thinking of starting a career in Humanitarian Affairs? Or are you seeking personal development in this field? The General Academic Strand (GAS) strand offers Disaster Readiness and Risk Reduction as a core subject for Senior High School students.
PreventionWeb. Disaster risk reduction & disaster risk management. 12 November 2015.
UNDRR. About Disaster Risk Reduction. 2019.
UNDRR. Terminology. 02 February 2017.
UNDRR. What is Disaster Risk Reduction?. 2019.
Twigg, J. ”Good Practice Review 9: Disaster Risk Reduction”. 2015 ed., Overseas Development Institute, 2015.