Monitoring, hazard mapping and emergency planning

The capacity of a community to cope often depends on how well prepared they are. This depends on monitoring and being able to predict extreme weather.

In the UK and many high income countries (HICs), governments and agencies have access to weather monitoring equipment such as satellites and ocean weather stations. In Wales, Natural Resources Wales and the Met Office monitor weather on a daily basis and can, in turn, notify people who are most vulnerable. In addition, they can offer advice to people on when to leave and find safety and where to go. This increases the capacity of a country to cope with the effects of coastal flooding.

Hazard mapping

Another job of Natural Resources Wales is to produce hazard maps to identify areas at risk of natural hazards, eg flooding. A hazard map provides information for the public about areas which are under great threat and areas which are safer to be in. The maps can also provide vital information to planners and decision makers about the risks associated with certain areas of the land, eg it helps town planners decide on whether or not planning permission should be given for new houses. If the hazard map suggests the area is liable to flooding, then it should be assumed that planning will be refused.

Emergency services

Well trained and well equipped services are vital to help reduce the vulnerability of communities. In low income countries (LICs) this is not always the case because of the high costs involved. By building hospitals and cyclone shelters, and training people to deal with natural hazards, a country can increase its capacity to cope.

Tackling the root cause

During the last 25 years it has been more widely recognised that governments and non-government organisations (NGOs) can help reduce the vulnerability of a community. Providing people with the same opportunities in life such as an education, access to work and good quality housing will help increase a person’s ability to deal with a natural disaster. In some countries such as Bangladesh, the number of children attending school has increased tenfold in the last 25 years – in part thanks to the targets set by the Bangladeshi Government. This means that more and more people are literate, therefore better able to understand the dangers they face and what to do in the event of a storm or tsunami.

Traditional stilt houses standing in water, with high rise apartment buildings in the background.
People in Bangladesh are becoming more resourceful by building homes and walkways elevated above the flood waters on stilts. These building skills are in part due to an increase in education uptake, so that now people know what to do to survive