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…A decade that was

Khadija Sultana Khan
GIS Development

In its resolution 44/236 of 1989, the United Nations General Assembly announced 1990-2000 as the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR). The objective was to reduce, through concerted international action, the loss of life, property damage, and social and economic disruption caused by natural disasters. IDNDR functions through IDNDR National committees and Focal Points, which exist in 138 countries. One of the key concerns of the Decade lies in the effective application of science and technology for the benefit of preventing disasters.

In a General Assembly resolution 44/236 in 1989, the IDNDR goals and objectives were introduced. They were reviewed and further refined at the World Conference adopted in the Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action for a Safer World, which include the following;

  • To improve the capacity of each country (especially developing countries) to effectively mitigate the effects of natural disasters and disaster-resistant structure capabilities;
  • To adopt scientific and technical strategies;
  • To disseminate existing and new technical information.

By the year 2000, all countries are encouraged to have:

  • Mitigation plans of practical measures for application at national and local levels that address long-term disaster prevention, preparedness and community awareness;
  • Ready access to warning systems at global, regional, national and local levels.

IDNDR and it’s related Agencies
Early warning was recognised as an important issue in natural disaster prevention efforts, from the very beginning of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR). It was one of the decade’s programme consisting of the target to encourage countries by the year 2000, to achieve sustainable development, ready access to global, regional, national and local warning systems.

The implementation of successful early warning occurred prior to the volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991. Since its independence, in Bangladesh in 1997, evacuation of more than 600,000 people from low-lying areas, 36 to 48 hours in advance of an approaching cyclone was made possible for the first time because of the early warning system.

IDNDR’s revolutionary techniques and the increasing influence of the mass media have brought about a fundamental change in the art of disseminating weather information to the public. In order to enhance the capacities of the national meteorological and hydrological services of its members, World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), a specialised agency of the United Nations, regularly conducts workshops in media relations and communication skills. WMO trains broadcast meteorologists to improve their weather presentations on television and radio, so that valuable information, such as pin-point detection and forecasting of natural disasters can be relayed to save thousands of lives every year.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have been actively participating in IDNDR’s activities. This participation covers, among others, risk assessment and emergency rescue operational for the outstanding cultural heritage throughout the world, such as monuments, historic urban quarters, archeological sites, museums and archives including a large number of important historic documents and precious objects. The rescue of the Abu Simbel Temple on the Nile River bank and the 4000 year old urban remains of Moenjodaro on the Indus River bank are just two steps of the thirty UNESCO International Safeguarding Campaigns.

Disaster prevention advocacy is an essential element of IDNDR. Its information activities include an annual World Disaster Reduction Campaign. The aim is to motivate people in protecting their own communities from natural hazards. In this context various press conferences, seminars, photo contests have been organised for a selected theme in over 50 countries in relation to a promotion campaign in October, each year.