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Habitat II Conference                      [ Back to Habitat II ]

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IV Global Plan of Action

C. Sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world

11. Disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness, and post-disaster rehabilitation capabilities

170. The impact on people and human settlements of natural and human-made disasters is becoming greater. Disasters are frequently caused by vulnerabilities created by human actions, such as uncontrolled or inadequately planned human settlements, lack of basic infrastructure and the occupation of disaster-prone areas. Armed conflicts also have consequences that affect human settlements and the country as a whole. Accordingly, both disasters and armed conflicts call for specific involvement and rehabilitation and reconstruction processes that may necessitate international involvement, at the request of the Government of the country concerned. The impact of such disasters and emergencies is especially severe in countries where prevention, preparedness, mitigation and response capacities are ineffective in dealing with such situations.

171. The most efficient and effective disaster preparedness systems and capabilities for post-disaster response are usually provided through volunteer contributions and local authority actions at the neighbourhood level. These can operate independently, irrespective of reduced, damaged or destroyed infrastructure or capacity elsewhere. Specific actions are also required at the appropriate levels of government, including local authorities, in partnership with the private sector and in close coordination with all community groups, to put into place disaster preparedness and response capacities that are coordinated in their planning but flexible in their implementation. The reduction of vulnerability, as well as the capacity to respond, to disasters is directly related to the degree of decentralized access to information, communication and decision-making and the control of resources. National and international cooperation networks can facilitate rapid access to specialist expertise, which can help to build capacities for disaster reduction, to provide early warning of impending disasters and to mitigate their effects. Women and children are the most affected in situations of disaster, and their needs should be considered at all stages of disaster management. Women's active involvement in disaster planning and management should be encouraged.

Actions

172. In improving natural and human-made disaster prevention, preparedness, mitigation and response, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, and in close consultation and cooperation with such entities as insurance companies, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, organized communities, and the academic, health and scientific community, should:

(a) Develop, adopt and enforce appropriate norms and by-laws for land-use, building and planning standards that are based on professionally established hazard and vulnerability assessments;

(b) Ensure the participation in disaster planning and management of all interested parties, including women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities, in recognition of their particular vulnerability to human-made and natural disasters;

(c) Encourage continued mobilization of domestic and international resources for disaster reduction activities;

(d) Promote and disseminate information on disaster-resistant construction methods and technologies for buildings and public works in general;

(e) Devise programmes to facilitate, where possible, voluntary relocation and access by all people to areas that are less disaster-prone;

(f) Develop training programmes on disaster-resistant construction methods for designers, contractors and builders. Some programmes should be directed particularly towards small enterprises, which build the great majority of housing and other small buildings in the developing countries;

(g) Take measures to upgrade, where necessary, the resistance of important infrastructure, lifelines and critical facilities, in particular where damage can cause secondary disasters and/or constrain emergency relief operations.

173. Consideration should be given by all Governments and international organizations that have expertise in the field of clean-up and disposal of radioactive contaminants to providing appropriate assistance as may be requested for remedial purposes in adversely affected areas.

174. With respect to the mitigation of disasters, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, in partnership with all interested parties, should, as appropriate:

(a) Establish a comprehensive information system that identifies and assesses the risks involved in disaster-prone areas and integrate it into human settlements planning and design;

(b) Promote and support low-cost, attainable solutions and innovative approaches to addressing critical risks of vulnerable communities through, inter alia, risk-mapping and community-focused vulnerability reduction programmes;

(c) Encourage, promote and support low-cost, attainable solutions, innovative approaches and appropriate building standards to address critical risks of valuable communities, through, inter alia, risk-mapping and community-focused vulnerability reduction programmes;

(d) Introduce a clear delineation of the roles and responsibilities of, and communication channels among, the various key functions and actors in pre-event disaster management, mitigation and preparedness activities, such as hazard and risk assessment, monitoring, prediction, prevention, relief, resettlement and emergency response;

(e) Promote and encourage all parts of society to participate in disaster preparedness planning in such areas as water and food storage, fuel and first-aid, and in disaster prevention through activities that build a culture of safety;

(f) Strengthen and/or develop global, regional, national and local early-warning systems to alert populations to impending disasters.

175. In order to prevent technological and industrial disasters, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, as appropriate, should:

(a) Pursue the objectives of preventing major technological accidents and limiting their consequences through, inter alia, land-use policies and the promotion of safe technology;

(b) Take the necessary measures to control the siting of new developments surrounding dangerous industrial activities that may be liable to increase the risk of the effects of a major accident through appropriate consultation procedures to facilitate the implementation of the policies established under subparagraph (a) above;

(c) Introduce a clear definition of roles and responsibilities and of communication channels between the various key functions of disaster preparedness and prevention, including assessment, monitoring, prediction, prevention, relief, resettlement and emergency response;

(d) Promote and encourage broad-based participation in disaster preparedness activities by giving to the population living in the vicinity of a dangerous activity adequate and regular information on the potential hazards;

(e) Strengthen and/or develop global, regional and local early-warning systems to alert populations in case of a major technological accident.

176. In preparing for and implementing post-disaster relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction, and resettlement, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, in partnership with all interested parties, should:

(a) Establish or strengthen disaster preparedness and response systems that clearly define the roles and responsibilities of, and communication channels between, the various functions and actors in disaster preparedness, and in post-event disaster management, including emergency management, relief and rehabilitation;

(b) Devise exercises to test emergency response and relief plans, promote research on the technical, social and economic aspects of post-disaster reconstruction and adopt effective strategies and guidelines for post-disaster reconstruction;

(c) Establish reliable communications, and response and decision-making capabilities at the national, local and community levels;

(d) Establish contingency plans, management and assistance systems, and arrangements for rehabilitation, reconstruction and resettlement;

(e) Strengthen scientific and engineering capacities for damage assessment and monitoring and for special rehabilitation and reconstruction techniques;

(f) Support all relevant interested parties in carrying out relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities;

(g) Identify and support approaches to cope with the urgent shelter requirements of returnees and internally displaced persons, including as appropriate, the construction of temporary housing with basic facilities, taking into account gender-specific needs;

(h) Identify approaches to minimize interruption to attendance in schools;

(i) Support work for immediate removal of anti-personnel land-mines following the cessation of armed conflict;

(j) Ensure that the particular needs of women, children, persons with disabilities and vulnerable groups are considered in all communications, rescue efforts, relocation, rehabilitation and reconstruction;

(k) Promote a cultural dimension in post-disaster rehabilitation processes;

(l) Recognize, support and facilitate the role of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and their member national societies in disaster prevention, preparedness, mitigation and response at the local, national and international levels;

(m) Encourage the International Committee of the Red Cross to take action in periods of armed conflict in order to reduce the suffering of the victims of conflicts and displaced persons.

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