Saturday, November 11, 2006

Human Security and Post- Disasters (Earthquake)

  1. Disaster: Is it a human security issue?“Human Security” is relatively a new concept, however one that is now widely used to describe the complex of interrelated threats; associated with disease, hunger, unemployment, crime, social conflict, displacement populations, political repression, and disasters; and which of them can threaten human life, livelihood, dignity and realization of full potential of each individual. The distinction between human security and national security is significant to find out how disaster vulnerability is reduced or increased. In the first place, the concept of human security involves a fundamental departure from an orthodox, international relations security analysis that has the state as the exclusive primary referent object. Instead, human beings and their complex social, environmental and economic relations are given primacy with or over states. Human security is ‘the ability to protect and empowerment people as well as to safeguard states’. Human security is a child who did not die, a disease that did not spread, a job that was not cut, an ethnic tension that did not explode into violence, a dissident who was not silenced, a disaster that did not cause a massive loss of life and devastating. Then the change in the primary referent object of security from state to human being has implications both for understanding the sources of threats to security, and for elucidating strategies to increase security. Importantly the shift in focus from the rights, concerns and needs of states to those of human beings or citizens opens up the state for critical scrutiny. As national security focuses on the defense of the state from external attack, human security is about protecting people from any form of threats. So in that matter, all above threads can not be considered as threat and also, as security issue in long -term and even short- term by states. What we see in disaster or mainly post- disaster situations, in USA (Katrina),Iran(Bam), Pakistan’s Kashmir, and etc. and so, the way that they are facing with those threats; are enough to substantiate this argument. Indeed, human security and national security should be and often are mutual reinforcing. But secure states do not automatically mean secure peoples. Therefore, what I assume in posing the disaster and post- disaster issue is that, human insecurity results directly from existing power structures that determine who enjoys the entitlement to security and who does not. Such structures can be identified at several levels, ranging from the global, through the regional, the state and finally the local level. For a growing number of people, the failure of state and of global, to facilitate the enjoyment of human security has resulted in their pursuit of human security through the informal sector, beyond the reach of formal institutions of the state.

  • Discuss the post disaster issue as a human security issue with pictures
6,000 schools is destroyed by last year earthquake, and until now not reconstruct; students still study outdoor Source: BBC news
After one year , 400,000 people do not have any shelter or houses. This picture shows people , hand-made shelter by themselves, in a mountain region of Kashmir wit very cold and dangerous climate in winter to stay alive. Source: BBC news
Source: BBC news
Disaster brings some social changes, in this picture Palas tribes with strong color of family relationship , before earthquake tribes of this region was fighting with each other. after disaster, they cooperate with each other, and establish a foundation and open the gate in order to have a representative to talk about their needs and to take aids and funds from foreign agencies. Establishing such as foundation show peoples participation and empowerment, to taking charge of their own life. Source: BBC news

Life is continuing even in iron box:
Bam, three years after earthquake, a Iron box, as a barbershop. Source: BBC news

Bam ,a lawyer office. Source: BBC news

Bam, a mini super market Source: BBC news

Bam, an internet, and computer shop. Source: BBC news

Bam, a music shop, with teaching and repairing guitar Source: BBC
A house in bam, after earthquake, reconstructing by people themselves Source: BBC news
Bam, Judo class Source: BBC news
Bam, A shelter inside of rubbles Source: BBC news
2. The orthodox and the alternative view of Disaster study

 The orthodox view(Techno- centric)

 Disaster: A situation of occurrence natural or man made disaster, suffered by people who do not have technocratic knowledge to withstand vagaries of nature and to satisfy other basic material needs.
 Purpose: Transformation of traditional subsistence knowledge defined as ‘backward’ into monitoring technique ,scientific theory and engineering structures defined as ‘modern’ , which a society return to on recovery.
 Core ideas and assumptions: The possibility of rapid recovery, construction and rehabilitation based on ‘command and control model’ of planning , and purely techno-centric measures, laying stress on formulating, guidelines or byelaws and advocating standard solutions, belief that the process would ultimately benefit every one. Domination, exploitation of nature.
 Measurement: Monitoring and analysis of geophysical process, designing ,planning and managerial activities to contain the geophysical processes or to modify human behaviour relative to those processes. Developing emergency measures (warning systems, relief)
 Process: Top- down; reliance on ‘expert knowledge’ usually western and definitely external; advanced technology; expansion of the private sphere.

 The alternative view (Human security)
 Disaster: A situation suffered by people who are vulnerable to meet the spiritual needs of themselves and their families, and to produce enough to meet the family’s material needs.
 Purpose: Creation of human well- being through sustainable societies in social ,cultural ,political environmental and economic terms, and empowerment .
 Core ideas and assumptions: Sufficiency. The inherent value of nature, cultural diversity and the community- controlled commons .Human activity in balance with nature. Self- reliance rather than reliance on external agents or governments. Democratic inclusion, participation, e.g. voice for marginalized groups such as women, indigenous people. Local control.
 Measurement: Fulfilment of basic material and non- material human needs of everyone; condition of natural environment. Political empowerment of disastrous victims.
 Process: Bottom- up; participatory; reliance on appropriate (often local) knowledge and technology; small investments in small-scale projects; protection of commons.
(I borrowed the methodological framework from Caroline Thomas, “ Global Governance, Development and Human Security”, London: Pluto Press, 2000, p.38)

3. Mapping a inter- relationship among disaster, local
knowledge and vulnerability
It is apparent that human and material losses by natural disasters increased over the twentieth and even now. These natural disasters just like a huge earthquake, tsunami, typhoon and hurricane lead to vastly different types of tragedies between and within our societies.
In the previous studies of these natural disasters researchers have approached them in the technological way just like seismology, archeology and civil engineering. Of course these studies have compiled the results to some extent but the natural disaster not only brought about material damages but also lead to damages of relationship of communities and cultural bond of society sometimes human mentalities. The latter is very tragic and perpetual one. Sometime we could call it a secondary disaster after natural powered disaster.
These tragic phenomena have drawn attention to the need to think natural disaster from the point of view of a wider social and cultural perspective in addition to previous technological thinking way.
In my research I would like to try to clear the mechanism of secondary damages of post disaster because of the lack of the consideration of this social and historical perspective. Key words are; Disaster, Local knowledge and Vulnerability. I point out that a disaster, local knowledge and vulnerability have very close relations each other and influence deeply each other. Each one is just like a part of the circle of which consist. In this circular situation, I try to mention how local knowledge is important. Because exactly the lack of the considering local knowledge, at the same time by failing get rid of vulnerabilities, result in a cause of another disaster. For instance, some previous cases, have shown that the lack of cultural consideration of local knowledge is resulted to repeat vulnerability again and again during undertaking post disaster rehabilitation. For example, Teddy Boen and Rohit Jigyasu in cases of Indonesia (1992) and Marathwada(1993) 8 years after the reconstruction, investigated that, undertaking relocation as part of post-disaster rehabilitation, without analyzing the characteristics of population targeted for rehabilitation; is like repeating the same mistake over and over in many programs. As they mentioned, after the earthquake, tsunami stricken areas such as Wuring and Babi village on Flores Island, where declared dangerous for habitation; therefore on the advice of several “international experts” it was decided to relocate these villages to new areas, namely Nangahure and Nangahale, far from the beach. Subsequently in 1993, the armed forces built 1800 houses, and then, moved 700 families from each village to new areas. But, the type of houses built, were not match with hose people life style. In wuring and Babi villages, the houses were built on poles so that these do not get submerged in water during high tides. These were also in line with their ways of living as fishermen who consider sea as part of their life. By building on poles, the fishermen could tie their boats along their houses during high tides. However, they could not do so in Nangahure or Nangahale, because houses built on land.
Also, authors say that, the government overlooked the cultural differentiations, in relocating those people, who divided to Catholics, and Moslems, for centuries they had lived in harmony in Flores since they had their own areas/ villages; however after relocation, the government settled these two culturally and socially distinct groups in one village.
As the result, people, leaved the areas, and moved back to their habitat, and the most of them had rebuilt their houses on poles; and became more vulnerable to disastrous situations, such as 2004 Tsunami.
In the end of article authors concluded and emphasized that, “ we influence the decision makers to be sensitive , so that past mistakes are not repeated, rather reconstruction initiatives help in reinstating the way of life of the local people, which truly represents the culture than merely a few historic buildings.” (Teddy Boen and Rohit Jigyasu, “ Cultural Considerations for Post Disaster Reconstruction, Post Tsunami Challenges,” Asian Disaster Management News, Vol.11,No.2,April-June 2005, p.9)
However, in turn, this is a innovative article , and authors try to consider the local people’s culture, and take attention of their governments to the suffered people issues, but, what again is ignored in such as article is, the role of people themselves, and what they can do for themselves, how they can empower themselves and participate or negotiate on their behalf with their government. Think about cultural consideration by decision makers and government, and notice them to not to be cultural insensitivity is significant, but more important is to look people issue from people eyes, from down to up.
Note:
Teddy Boen is a structural and earthquake engineer and has his own office. Besides engineered
buildings/constructions, he also puts a lot of efforts to non engineered constructions, documented and studied earthquake damages in Indonesia for the past 30 years. He is an earthquake “chaser” and could be considered as the founding father of modern earthquake engineering in Indonesia. Apart from his practice, he had 34 years of lecturing experience at several Universities and currently he is a Senior Advisor of WSSI (World Seismic Safety Initiative) He has been associated with several International
organizations as such as ADPC, WSSI, GHI, EQTAP etc and serves/had served as adviser/consultant to
numerous projects funded by USAID, UNCRD, ADB and World Bank.
Rohit Jigyasu is an architect, planner and conservation consultant based in India. He undertook doctoral research titled ‘Reducing Disaster Vulnerability through Local Knowledge and Capacity. The Case of Earthquake-prone Rural Communities in India and Nepal’ at Norwegian University of Science and Technology from 1999-2002. The research analyzed the long-term impact of reconstruction in Marathwada, India following a destructive earthquake that struck the region in 1993. The transition phase from relief to reconstruction was also analyzed in Gujarat, India following 2001 earthquake. He has recently developed training kit on Risk Preparedness for Cultural Heritage for ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of Restoration and Preservation of Cultural Property), an intergovernmental organization based in Rome. The kit is based on integrated framework for risk management of cultural heritage.


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