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You can’t improve what you don’t measure

SPC media release

Disaster risk management – You can’t improve what you don’t measure

Tuesday 15 October 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji –

Once a disaster starts to unfold, it is too late to start looking for the information needed to manage it. This truism has been discussed for the past decade and remains relevant today for the disaster management business.

According to Jotham Napat, Director of the Vanuatu Meteorological and Geohazards Department, ‘Strengthening our IT system and developing a disaster loss database will assist our efforts in disaster risk reduction.’

Disasters strike as floods, cyclones, tsunamis, landslides, earthquakes, droughts or other intense natural phenomena or emergencies that threaten or destroy lives and property. Speed in saving and sustaining lives and re-establishing essential services and livelihoods depends on the information at hand to manage the risks.

From guiding relief efforts to assessing risks of future disasters or tracking loss patterns and trends, disaster risk management needs damage and loss data and information. The Pacific now has a regional disaster loss database managed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Applied Geosciences and Technology (SOPAC) Division.

This database aims to provide useful information on various parameters of disaster impacts, including national and sub-national data and analysis, where available. Effective disaster information management is a vital component of preparedness and prevention, and in turn of reducing damage and loss.

Key benefits of a validated Pacific disaster loss database include the opportunity to analyse and identify disaster risk patterns and build risk knowledge about disaster-prone areas, hazards and vulnerability. At a minimum, the database links standard and customised variables for loss of life and financial costs, including damage to infrastructure, to guide policies and monitoring of initiatives that improve decision-making and priority setting.

To strengthen understanding of damage and loss in the Pacific region, SPC’s Disaster Reduction Programme is facilitating a workshop on 28 and 29 October 2013. The aim is to explore data and information sharing opportunities to optimise disaster risk management planning.

The workshop will cover systematic collection, quality and consistency of data, information flows before, during and after disasters, and links between databases and projects. Outcomes are expected to strengthen the evidence base and improve the ability of key agencies to manage the information underpinning improved disaster risk management in the region.


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