By The Editor
Looking at Nepal we can say now for sure that we shouldn’t wait till the ground beneath us starts shaking. A natural disaster like this breaks the very foundations on which our homes and society is built upon. With death toll rising every day and thousands still out there in need of food, water, shelter, this disaster has brought Nepal on its knees. Given the geologically challenging the Himalayan region is and the recent findings that 87 of our cities are at tremendous risk from an earthquake, we have to look for lessons from this catastrophe.
Nepal serves as an example that within seconds the world we know can break into pieces and all we are left with is the rubble to sift through for dead and alive. The country was paralyzed within hours and its own government was defenseless against such adversity. Media is mainly focusing on Kathmandu but people in rural areas have to fend for themselves, the vital aid is needed and precious time is running out. With country so disproportionately populated as Nepal, it will be unrealistic to expect that help would reach in all the corners of the small Himalayan nation but had their government prepared for situations like this the chaos and casualty rate might have been lower.
People can fight armies because they can prepare for it but not against the nature. The key is time, the way we responded to quake in evacuating our citizens and organizing medical, food and other necessary resources clearly made the difference but we have to build on top of this effort, a blueprint for rescue operations whenever a crisis may hit home. Options are numerable; we already have civil defense units which are made up of civilian volunteers. People on the ground are first and foremost answer to a disaster like flood or quake. Training these volunteers would make a huge difference in saving lives. For instance even basic medical training, knowing what to do in a life threatening situation, how to stop bleeding, making shelter and caring for injured can come handy not only during mother natures mood swings but also in situations like terrorist attacks and wartime. The quake may kill many but most die due to lack of timely medical assistance.
Teaching people how to respond is an important aspect in disaster recovery. It’s as basic as teaching school children to hide under desk when ground starts trembling. It is not feasible to repair or build each and every building at the Earthquake standards, it’s just the way things are but if we have dedicated groups skilled to organize rescue, help and assistance to those who are trapped and those who are not, will make the difference between life and death. These people can take charge before the cavalry comes in.
India’s efforts are being noticed around the world, first Yemen, then Nepal. We are winning hearts at a global scale but we have to be much quicker on feet in our own home if we really want to set a standard before the world.