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Develop early disaster reporting mechanism

By Vision Reporter

Added 8th April 2015 03:16 PM

Drought is considered the foremost threat of disasters in many countries in the continent with six of seven countries being extremely vulnerable to droughts spells (IGAD, 1999), Uganda for example is the country which does not have widespread drought but has experienced past disastrous episodes mai

Drought is considered the foremost threat of disasters in many countries in the continent with six of seven countries being extremely vulnerable to droughts spells (IGAD, 1999), Uganda for example is the country which does not have widespread drought but has experienced past disastrous episodes mai

By Moses Arnold Okello

Drought is considered the foremost threat of disasters in many countries in the continent with six of seven countries being extremely vulnerable to droughts spells (IGAD, 1999), Uganda for example is the country which does not have widespread drought but has experienced past disastrous episodes mainly in the North and Karamoja regions.


Climatic conditions are blamed for an increase in the frequency of the drought in some areas of the affected regions in Uganda. Importantly where water resources are under developed or limited as in many of the drought prone areas people and livestock are very vulnerable, the resultant Agricultural failure and effects of the conflict on agricultural production in these areas compound this indeed. Drought have historically caused widespread agricultural failure across the Karamoja region resulting in millions of causalities and massive loss of assets

The presence of large tracts of Arid and semi-Arid lands and other factors which contribute to vulnerability to drought such as widespread reliance on subsistence agriculture and pastoralist way of life, weaknesses in farming and livestock management systems, population pressure and water scarcity make the regions prone to drought similarly some of these factors contribute to desertification, environment degradation and deforestation more so use and effectiveness of traditional copying mechanisms have been weakened due to repeated stress and population pressure.

The question is; are these slow disasters being reported or highlighted to the public on time, People are not immune to the hazards taking place within their areas of operation indeed they respond to the hazards as they perceive them in their areas. Interestingly to note is the fact that their perception is conditioned by cultural, traditional, socio-economic and political factors.

A common feature in both the industrialised and industrialising countries in that public concern become highly stimulated when a significant environmental disaster occurs for example the Floods that blocked activities in the Western Uganda district of Kasese peaked following public awareness by the media about the seriousness of the disaster. This alacrity with which such emergencies are handled is normal and natural because the public perception of hazards is highly weighted by its severity and very little by its frequency, this has actually been the reason why response rate in drought and famine has been very slow in many countries compared to other disasters like terrorist attack in the later the response is almost immediate as evidenced in the recent Garrisa University terror attack.

However, the mass media are powerful allies in effective disaster management. To be sure, they play a major role in effecting and shaping the public perception concerning disasters, including drought and famine. This is because news is(almost by definition) about the unusual, the media generally emphasizes disasters that are relatively serious and /or relatively rare, in this case catastrophic events are reported more frequently than frequencies. Usual events receive extensive coverage by the press both print and electronic because they have inherent public appeal

More significantly, we emphasise that public perceptions are very important in disaster management. If people’s perceptions about drought and famine for example are faulty efforts for public and environmental protection are likely to be unsuccessful.

In such cases people affected by disasters may refuse to relocate to other areas and if they are forcefully relocated (as in the case of Mount Elgon inhabitants) they tend to always come back to the area soon as conditions permit although this has been described as irrational behavior, it illustrates how deep rooted perceptions are difficult to change.

The writer is the founder and executive director of the Action for Climate Change
 

Develop early disaster reporting mechanism

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