Being on the high mountains of the Himalayas, disaster management should receive the highest priority.
As global warming catches on, we are in for a lot of work at home. So, the news that the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is creating awareness among the people is welcome.
As a country in the Himalayas with a large number of lakes, melting glaciers are a problem. We have not forgotten the October 8, 1994 incident that caused serious damage along the Phochhu basin.
More than the people living along the banks of the rivers, the Department of Disaster Management must fully understand the impact of possible GLOF.
Creating awareness is one thing, preparing for the possible dangers is a different thing altogether.
We know about mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. If these jargons continue to remain on the papers, we are in for a serious big problem.
That the DDM is working with government agencies such as the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement, the National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology, and the National Land Commission to develop a disaster risk management portal is some reassurance. But we need much more—hazard-mapping is one. But what is being done beyond this?
Bhutan is sitting on the heart of the seismic zone. One rattle, even a mild one, can wreak serious havoc.
Therefore, DDM’s disaster management contingency plan— based on a historical approach or evidence of a disaster in the area—by involving local governments is to be lauded.
What we lack is an institutionalised channel to disseminate information. This is a serious problem.
Thankfully, the focus or the theme of this year’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction is substantially to increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to people by 2030.
Learning from the lessons and heeding the warnings, Bhutan has to do a lot more to prepare.
We have legislation, frameworks and contingency plans in place. We have trained and sensitised people about the impending dangers. We continue to conduct simulations, demonstrations, drills and many other activities.
The vulnerable groups like the monastic body and schools are being targeted for specific preparedness risk management and training. Primary school children teach their parents how to duck under the table in case of an earthquake. All these are good but not enough.
The problem with disaster is that no level of preparedness is good preparation. In times of disaster, dissemination of timely and credible information is crucial in minimising the loss of life and injury. We need to build more on this.