Over the past few decades, we have seen many joint programmes between developed countries and developing countries to help the latter in managing their earthquake risks. These programmes span the whole spectrum of disciplines from seismology and geology to engineering, social science and economics. Many of these programmes have been effective in raising awareness, in urging governments to work towards risk reduction and in spawning an ‘industry’ of disaster management in many of the developing countries. However, even as these efforts proceed, we have seen death and destruction due to earthquake after earthquake in developing countries, strongly suggesting that the problems for which those assistance programmes were developed are not so effective. Therefore, it is natural to ask why this is happening. Are the assistance programmes reaching the right people? Maybe we are reaching the right people and doing the right type of things in these countries, but we have not allowed enough time for our actions to take effect. Maybe we are reaching the right people and doing the right actions for most of the miles we need to cover in helping communities mitigate their earthquake risks. However, the issue could be whether we are reaching people who represent the ‘last mile’ on this pathway. Here, I explore whether the work that many organizations and countries have done towards earthquake risk reduction over the past few decades in developing countries is appropriate or not. Why do we keep seeing the catastrophes of Sumatra, Chi Chi, Bhuj, Turkey, Algeria and on and on? I will articulate what I think is the problem. My contribution is intended to generate discussions, self-analysis of our approaches, what we are doing right and what we are not doing right. Hopefully such discussions will result in a better connection between the last mile and programmes around the world which are working towards earthquake risk mitigation.
One contribution of 20 to a Discussion Meeting Issue ‘Extreme natural hazards’.
- © 2006 The Royal Society