Role of Technology in Reducing and Exacerbating Disaster Risk: A Case Study of -- Haiti
Examine how technology(s) exacerbates.
Examine how technology(s) reduces the vulnerability of different people facing the same risk.
Make policy recommendations that would reduce the risk for the most vulnerable.
How to involve communities in technology development.
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The technological inventions and life often go hand in hand and the disasters have often been exacerbated or controlled by technology. This paper investigates in details the Haitian experience during the 2010 earthquake and looks at how technology contributed to the worsening effects of the disaster and also how the use of technology helped alleviate the suffering of the Haitians.
Natural hazards in themselves do not culminate to a hazard, but the lack of adequate preparation of the affected, the expose to disaster and the vulnerability of the population, when combined with the hazard like flood or earthquake is what culminates into a disaster. Technology or lack of it will hence interlace with these contributing factors to either shield off or exacerbate the effect of a disaster on a population. The technological advancements that are experienced often target to solve a given challenges that may be in existence, however, in the process of solving one human challenge, it acts directly or indirectly to cause another form of disaster to the same humanity (International Federation of Red Cross and red Crescent Societies, 2014).
The Haitian situation after the earthquake in 2010 saw the nation get into deep lack of food and water. There were vast fields that were not affected by the earthquake but remained unproductive, rivers that were in existence there before also stopped flowing hence exacerbating the human suffering during the disaster. The change in climatic conditions that occasioned the poor harvest and the drying up of water sources that there before reliable due to advancement in technology which brought about industries that led to the accumulation of the greenhouse gasses and eventual unfavorable weather patterns (Singh B. & Cohen M.J., 2014). These weather patterns affected the farm production in the food producing regions, Haiti included, to a level that if the other infrastructure and sources of food are destroyed, then the people within the regions can hardly find enough food to cater for them, hence leaving them vulnerable to the hazard and a disaster happens. According to Encyclopedia of the Nations, (2014) rice is the staple food of the people in Haiti yet only 20% of this demand can be met by local production, this indicates a huge deficit in food production due to the erratic weather occasioned largely by global warming, a product of technology.
The UNEP (2014) indicates that only 30% of the people in Haiti had access to clean drinking water, this is due to the untreated sewage that is emitted into the water sources and more significantly the industrial waste that find its way in bulk into the rivers and lakes and other water bodies and water catchment areas. This meant that when the earthquake struck, the demand for drinking water significantly increased and the disaster was evident after the earthquake in 2010. This negative effect of the industrial waste pollution was a doing of technology since the industries that emit the raw effluence into the water sources are a product of technology.
There are however, areas where technology has proven to be of significant intervention or help in reducing the vulnerability of people to hazards hence mitigating the effects of a disaster, especially in line with the earthquake after the 2010...
Research has been conducted and thanks to technology the trends and the progress of earthquakes and the way they manifest themselves have been known and necessary data capture. This data has hence led to buildings and bridges designs and building materials to be introduced that help in reduction of the effects of earthquakes hence reducing the effects of the disaster on the people affected (Sherpa D., 2010).
The use of the mobile phone also came in handy in ensuring that there was seamless communication of information on the situation on the ground between rescue troops and the aid agencies. This technology, through the interactive maps and SMS services ensured real time information was communicated and in return the appropriate help available was availed to the areas where it was needed hence helping in reducing the effects of the Haiti disaster on the people. The mobile phone was also used by organisations that were involved in the search, rescue, aid, medical attention, food supply and overall operations like the Red Cross where the mobile phone numbers were assigned to be donation points and indeed they raised more than $30 million through this phone platform (Choney 2010).
Volunteers also used the handheld GPS devices to create the open-source maps to act as guides. Through these GPS devices, the volunteers created several up-to-date maps that were used widely to guide the humanitarian aid groups and also to give guide to the general public trying to navigate their way trough the disaster stricken terrain. This was indeed widely considered as a new media with great success story (Knight Foundation, 2011). This kind of technology has hence been used elsewhere in disasters that have happened after the 2010 Haiti catastrophe.
The Internet was another significant technology that was used to reduce the vulnerability of people to the disaster occasioned by earthquake. There were constant updates on various relevant websites on the situation in Haiti that helped sensitise people and governments on the plight of the people in the region. There were fund raising campaigns that were supported online and many people got to contribute towards buying medical supplies and other relevant aid that were shipped into Haiti.
The social media was also a reliable and dependable technology after the Haiti earthquake. The facebook and Twitter platform was used widely to first pass round the word on the happenings in Haiti. Celebrity figures with millions of followers were instrumental in making the entire world aware of the various ways that they could contribute in helping the people of Haiti during the disaster hence reduce the vulnerability of the Haitians facing the disaster. (Cashmore 2010). This has been replicated in other cases of disaster and hence is a good example of how technology can help in times of disaster.
The geographical information system (GIS) is yet another form technology that can be useful in times of disaster to mitigate the effects of disaster on the affected people. The GIS technology in this case will help in capturing the information on the ground and sending it to a central place for interpretation and use. The sent images and information to the central place are then used to help the people within the affected areas to get advice on the best route to take to exit the disaster region, helps the emergency responder in site location that would be safe from further disaster (Johnson 2000).
The transport modes that are used to make the delivery faster to the disaster scenes are of late increasingly becoming the planes. These are products of technology that were used even in the case of Haiti and have proven significant in rescue of people and delivery of aid workers as well as medical supplies hence positive technology when it comes to handling of disasters.
There are a number of policy recommendations that can be made in ensuring that the most vulnerable are not at a great risk of the disaster. First there is need to ensure that there is devolved resources especially among the very poor of any nation so that there are infrastructure improvement in all part such that incase of a disaster, there is an easy way out of the disaster area hence reducing the negative effects of the disaster. Secondly there is need to ensure that communication networks cover all regions to enhance the communication channels incase of disaster, this way the aid workers and emergency response will be able to quickly reach the affected regions and help people out of the disaster. Emergency response also needs to be an integral part of each society in schools and civil education. There is need hence for a multiagency approach that will see the disaster response taken with the serious it deserves and act to equip each member of the society with requisite knowledge in the event that a disaster strikes (Vilasa P., 2014).
The technology development, especially those that are targeted at being used within the community needs…
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