The attached document contains comments on major and minor aspects of the Disaster Management Bill. The main comments are as follows:
1. Scope of definition of disaster management (section 1)
The consequences of disasters such as floods and droughts are increasing dramatically. This can be ascribed not so much to the severity of the events but to the growing vulnerability of poor people to these events. For example, owing to population pressures, such people are increasingly being forced to occupy areas (flood plains of rivers, etc.) that are prone to disasters.
In deciding what preventive action should be taken, in terms of sections 20 and 33, to reduce the vulnerability of especially poor people to disasters, the main concern should be to determine how to break the downward spiral of impoverishment, in the medium to long term. If it is not possible to break this downward spiral, which is increasing the vulnerability of people still further, there will not only be an increase in disaster victims but also an increase in poverty and. along with that, an increase in crime, corruption and lawlessness. This is a fundamental and broad policy issue but it would seem to be beyond the scope of the Bill.
For poor people, who feel the effects of such disasters most (especially if they lose their possessions and means to a livelihood) the disaster period extends far beyond the actual event and well into the rehabilitation and development phase.
For this reason, under the definition of "post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation", a proposal has been made to change the wording to "means efforts, including development, aimed not only at restoring normality in conditions caused by a disaster, but also at creating conditions in which the vulnerability of communities and infrastructure to disasters is prevented or, at least, reduced."
The revised wording implies, for example, that there should be proper land-use planning or, even more importantly, that in the long-term the focus should be on job-creation and, more than that, on broad socio-economic development, including the provision of housing, quality education, medical services, etc. In this way, the principal concern will be addressed, albeit only in respect of those who have already been the victims of disasters.
For the same reason, in the section dealing with the monitoring activities of the National Disaster Management Centre, it has been proposed that a section be inserted to the effect that the National Centre must also monitor "steps taken with regard to post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation aimed at restoring normality in the conditions caused by the disaster and at creating conditions in which the vulnerability of communities and infrastructure to disasters is prevented or, at least, reduced."