New building guidelines for houses, schools and hospitals to overcome hazards in natural disasters
Sri Lanka lost over 33,000 lives to tsunami as country was not prepared
Over 70 countries identified as ‘vulnerable nations’ to natural disasters related to climate change
By Shanika Sriyananda
The Government yesterday reiterated the importance of getting private sector participation in disaster management, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction to drive the country for prosperity and development.
Addressing a gathering to mark the ‘International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015’ in Colombo, yesterday, the Disaster Management Minister Anura Priadarshana Yapa said that the Government was always prepared to entertain the participation of the private sector in matters related to disasters as they would affect the growth and the prosperity of the nation. The event themed ‘Consequences of Climate Change: Building Resilience, Reducing Risks, Being Prepared and Managing Disasters’ was organised by the Embassy of France together with the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Sri Lanka.
Explaining the measures taken by the government in disaster reduction, he said the government would soon introduce building guidelines, especially for houses, schools and hospitals, to overcome hazards in natural disasters.
“Law enforcement is still an unsolved critical issue in this context,” he said adding that the public will be encouraged to adopt risk reduction mitigation methods through public education and awareness programs.
“Integrating community knowledge and scientific knowledge with modern technology to implement effective early warning systems is also vital. Information about the system should be disseminated to vulnerable communities in an effective manner so that action plans can be carried out effectively.
Raising awareness and educating young and old people through media is also essential adaptation method to reduce their vulnerability on their individual level,” Minister said.
According to Minister Yapa, establishing green belt banning, illegal excavation of coral reef and rehabilitation of mangroves are some of the adoptive methods used to minimise risk of coastal erosion.
“Another important step is to prepare people for disasters that will inevitably strike by having contingency plans in place and emergency fund systems as well as regularly conducting simulation exercises,” he stressed.
He said that having identifying the importance of implementing adaptation methods after proper consideration, an integration of coastal management plans prepared by different stake holders, the Disaster Management Centre has taken action to take all stakeholders into the Natural Disaster Management Coordination Committee platform.
“Not only disaster management but also climate change and disaster risk reduction should be a matter in which every sector or society should be fully engaged in,” Minister Yapa said.
Ambassador of France, Jean-Marin Schuh said more than 70 per cent of natural disasters are linked to climate change, twice as many as 20 years ago.
“This figure will increase in the future,” he said adding, “when I think about natural disasters, the first event that comes to mind is the 2004 tsunami, which touched so many lives in just a few minutes,”
He said Sri Lanka, which lost over 33,000 lives including the lives of four French nationals, was not prepared and paid a heavy price.
“Ten years on, with the increasing occurrences of natural disasters, we need to work towards making all countries in the world more resilient to face the risks posed by tsunami, typhoons, drought, sandstorms, rise in sea levels or flash floods,” Schul said.
He said that the sea level could rise by over 80 centimetres by 2100 and over 70 countries have been identified as vulnerable nations to natural disasters related to climate change.
Highlighting the importance of hosting the 21st Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change by the French Government, Ambassador Schul said that at the Conference, which is to adopt an environmentally friendly approach with carbon neutral and ISO certified, the countries would be able to find positive change, mitigation, adaptation and disaster reduction to limit climate change to 2 celsius.