Preparedness – an international perspective

September is ‘Preparedness Month’ and here at JBA we’ve been supporting the #30Days30WaysUK campaign, raising awareness around household preparedness and resilience within the UK.

In this week’s blog we take a look at preparedness from an international perspective, and we hear from JBA’s Evie Whatling about her experiences within emergency planning and preparedness.

I’m Evie Whatling and I recently joined JBA as part of our resilience and emergency planning team. I’ve been in the field of disaster management and emergency planning for 6 years, from my studies to my career. This work has included Business Continuity for higher education institutions, non-technical skill training for UK emergency response agencies and training and exercising for Europe’s Border and Coast Guard Agency.

It is the multifaceted nature of disasters and incidents which has drawn me to the field, specifically to identify opportunities to support people and organisations as they manage and adapt to the challenges that arise from incidents, whether they be natural or man-made.

Over the past 12 months we’ve seen natural disasters increase in number, scale and intensity across the world. Most recently the Category 4 Atlantic Hurricane Ida impacting the US state of Louisiana at the end of August. Hurricane Ida was unique in that Hurricane Ida did not weaken upon reaching landfall. This caused Ida to impact a total of 22 states across the United States and caused 21 tornado reports. Cars were swept down roadways, basements filled with water, commuters were rescued from flooded subway lines and New York issues its first-ever flash flood emergency.

The process to developing resilience is built on a simple 4 step process:

  • preparedness
  • mitigation
  • response
  • recovery

However, the ability to measure and achieve these individual steps is a continually evolving cycle. Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is a strategy which aims to “enable all communities to become more resilient to the effects of natural hazards, technological and environmental disasters”. This initiative is at its most effective when strategies are centred around the community, building on people’s local knowledge and cultural practices.

NGOs are a central part to the DRR system as they shape both the response to humanitarian emergencies, and the longer-term disaster preparedness and resilience building at local, national, and international levels. Their work is done by operating based on community needs, representing the most at-risk and vulnerable communities during the response of a disaster and as part of policy, advocacy and recovery work preceding the event.

Typically, it is when disasters are at their greatest that they gain the most support from the public as non-profit organisations, whilst the following months and years, post incident, funding, and public support decreases. The recovery and preparedness work NGOs support is an imperative step to the DRR system. During this period, NGOs can help build back communities to withstand future disaster events, NGOs like UNICEF, Oxfam, Red Cross, International Aid, and Care International.

Natural disasters are becoming more common, and due to climate change their severity is also increasing. The need for preparedness and resilience in communities across the globe, as well as investing and committing to climate change initiatives to help us all prepare and adapt to our changing world, is greater than ever.

Want to know more?

Find out more about our work in the areas of property flood resilience and climate resilience on our website. You can also discover more about our International Development projects here.

Photo credit:  ‘Double exposure of Hurricane Ida approaching New Orleans on August 29, 2021’

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