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Reply #36: OXFAM America:Cuba a model for disaster prevention and mitigation programs [View All]

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Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-21-05 08:32 AM
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36. OXFAM America:Cuba a model for disaster prevention and mitigation programs
Edited on Fri Oct-21-05 08:35 AM by Mika
I've been in Cuba during a hurricane and have seen their action in person.

Oxfam America recently studied the experience of Cuba in its development of disaster prevention and mitigation programs. Situated in the Caribbean Sea, Cuba frequently stands in the way of serious hurricanes. While its neighbors are battered, losing lives and property, Cuba is unusually good at withstanding these calamities, and suffers much fewer dead.

Oxfams report, entitled Weathering the Storm: Lessons in Risk Reduction in Cuba cites a number of attributes of Cubas risk reduction program that can be applied by other countries. Three in particular are transferable to Asia and other regions:

  • * Disaster Preparedness: Cuba was especially good at mobilizing entire communities to develop their own disaster preparations. This involves mapping out vulnerable areas of the community, creating emergency plans, and actually simulating emergencies so people can practice evacuations and other measures designed to save lives. When disaster strikes, people know what to do.

  • * Commitment of Resources: Cubas strong central government prioritizes resources for its civil defense department. This helps the country to build up a common understanding of the importance of saving lives, and the citizens trust that their contributions to the government are well used for this purpose. Their collaboration on developing emergency plans helped build confidence in the government, so people trust in the plan they helped develop.

  • * Communications: The communications system for emergencies in Cuba builds on local resources. Using local radio stations and other media to issue warnings on potential hazards also reinforces the disaster preparations. Since the local population is already involved in mapping risks and creating emergency plans, they are more inclined to act on emergency bulletins. Good communications, packaged simply, and built on existing, commonly used resources, is another way to build trust in disaster preparations.

    Cuba is a unique example. There is a strong central government committed to protecting all its citizens, even the poorest and most isolated who are typically the most at risk. The most common natural disaster in Cuba is a hurricane, a threat visible for days and even weeks in advance. Yet building a culture of disaster preparedness, and involving local communities in mitigating risks, are strategies that can be applied in many other places, regardless of how rich or poor a country might be.

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