Oman is to be applauded for the swift mobilisation of rescue and relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Mekunu – but education on disaster preparedness needs to reach all segments of society. Why wait until the next cyclone? Says Sonia Ambrosio.
In the wake of the devastation left behind in Dhofar from Cyclone Mekunu, we raise our collective hats to the disaster risk management units. Kudos to the task forces, the volunteers, and the media who covered the story. Early alert and warning dissemination and monitoring, and analysis and forecasting of the dangers with people-centred strategies at the forefront proved highly effective at curtailing the human impact of the disaster.
Our preparedness in advance paid off. It came as a result of meetings and conferences among regional countries regarding coordination on disaster risk reduction, as earlier this year, representatives of several Arab states gathered to embrace plans for reducing natural disaster losses.
Within the big picture of the coordination initiative that was first established in 2007, it was then embraced on a larger scale in 2015. An agreement to adopt the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction has shown positive results, with the latest round of consultations held in January of this year. This framework aims to achieve a substantial reduction of losses in lives, livelihoods, businesses, physical infrastructure, etc. in the wake of natural disasters.
Climate change is expected to lead to more severe events such as droughts, floods, cyclones, and dust-storms all over the world, and our region — Oman in particular — has recently experienced an increasing number of weather events.
Sadly, a few lives were indeed lost in the wake of Mekunu, which shows that disaster prevention education is necessary to reach all groups – from children and youth, to foreigner workers. Incentives to follow procedures could include community service to those who choose not to heed advice on safety.
Raising public awareness on climate change, public information on disaster risk reduction, and the important role that media and social media can contribute to the goals of disaster management, and rescue and relief efforts is critical. Better not wait until the next cyclone to educate people.