Disaster resilience is a concept that refers to the ability of individuals, communities, social welfare groups, and nations to adapt to and recover from the hazards, aftereffects, and shocks of a disaster without impacting the long-term potential for development. The National Academies Press has devised a document on disaster resilience and national imperativeness.
Resilience is from natural or human-induced events. Disasters are inevitable, and no country or place is safe from disasters, so to combat that, countries have to mitigate the impacts of disasters by planning ahead. It also means that disaster resilience is linked to everyone, such as individuals, the private sector, and the government. Resilience is important for communities and nations, and having healthy communities will be an added advantage to combat the aftereffects of any upcoming disasters. A national imperative focuses on the broader issues of addressing upcoming disasters or events along with increasing the resilience of the nation to the disasters (Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative, 2012). Disaster resilience is nationally imperative because enhancing the resilience of a nation toward disaster can increase the safety of the people and communities as well as the development of the country.
In many countries, political or national agendas might not have the national resilience to disasters as one of the elements, and nations might lack the commitment and policies to reduce the risk of disasters and increase the safety measures for potential disasters (Cutter et al., 2013). The federal and regional governments might have different issues to handle, and there will be constraints such as budget, national interest, infrastructure, and others but for robust planning and success, political will and involvement of the political leaders are essential. In other words, increasing resilience at the national level is not prioritized of easy, but it is imperative to build a safe, secure, and sustainable country for the citizens. Communities and nations need to be better prepared for potential disasters to strengthen and protect the nation. A robust health infrastructure can lead to increased resilience for the people as healthy bodies and healthy communities resist and recover from disasters at the earliest. All systems in the country, such as political, economic, social, physical, and environmental, need to plan, work, and function together to build resilient communities and nations (Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative, 2012). In short, it is imperative for any nation to enhance its resilience for progress, development, and finances, as better resilience would increase the safety, security, and environmental aspects of the country.
There are several drivers that make resilience to disasters urgent and important such as fiscal, social, and environmental. The value of community assets such as structural, resources, and social assets and human loss during the disaster makes the action-oriented resilience plan from the government essential (Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative, 2012). At times of disaster, there is a greater loss of infrastructure and other community resources, along with the loss of human lives, making it difficult and time-consuming to build communities and provide similar resources. So, resilience will empower the communities and people to withstand the disruption caused by any disaster (Brown & Williams, 2015). Also, the investment made in resilience and preparedness will be less as compared to the investment that will be made to recover from the disruption and destruction. Also, the expenditure to recover from the calamity is borne by the whole country. The growing population, migration towards the coastal areas, and aging infrastructure across countries as well as the rapidly changing climate calls for catastrophe resilience (Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative, 2012). Assessing and understanding the impacts and magnitude of past disasters will provide an overview of and importance of becoming a disaster-resilient.
Managing risk is a crucial aspect of disaster resilience, and risk management is a process that examines and understands the existing policies, plans, and actions to minimize or reduce the risk of a hazard or hazards on people, environment, society, and property. The risk management is dependent on the availability of resources and proper policies. The process of risk management involves risk reduction strategies that are based on scientific, social, cultural, political, environmental, and economic expertise as well as technical expertise such as engineering and mechanical (Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative, 2012). Risk management is a continuous process, but the expectations from the strategies devised are realistic based on the cost and goals of the strategies. The process of risk management starts with establishing the goals and objectives of the interested parties and after that, identification of hazards such as the type of disaster that might hit that particular region (Freeman et al., 2003). Risk assessment is the magnitude of the impact of the particular and strategies to combat the risk. Those strategies are then implemented, and the last step is to continuously review the strategies and modify them according to the changing needs (Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative, 2012).
Decision-making in risk management or the overall process of resiliency helps to understand the prospective cost and benefits. However, the main challenge is understanding the benefits, whether economical or otherwise, are equally distributed across the region, incurring the cost of resilience. Decision-making is a challenge at levels such as for community leaders, as their decision is based on analyzing and assessing the values of their communities in terms of cultural, environmental, and social (Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative, 2012). The assets that are interdependent and high-value need robust planning, critical thinking, and priority settings. For this reason, community leaders hold a greater responsibility because their thinking, judgment, and priorities will be considered as a promise by the community members of the citizens. On the other hand, decision-making is also a dependent response to the problem as well as the capacity of a community to recover from the loss and calamity effects. Also, the factors that are essential to meet the needs of people with special needs and those in the minority. Measuring the progress of resilience is important, but it is not easy because it requires data and algorithms to measure it. However, the progress can be measured using the resilience matrix which is comprised of national and international indicators which measure the resilience of different aspects of the community. The critical dimension of a resilient system is the indicator which measures the ability of recovery of infrastructure from the disaster impact, social factors which limit or enhance the community’s ability to recover, and the ability of the building and other infrastructures to survive during the disasters such as earthquake, floods, etc and lastly, factors which apprehend the special needs of disabled and minority groups (Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative, 2012).
There are several strategies and skills that can be used to build resilience in a community, and the bottom-up approach can be useful in building those strategies. There are certain elements that can be used to strategize resilience in a community, such as community participation at levels of planning, policy-making, and implementation. Engaging communities in the decision-making process would build the capacity of the community and be effective for the resilience process. The second strategy is to link the public-private infrastructure and interests, such as a public-private partnership, in all resources of the community, such as education, health, water transportation, etc. The partnership will strengthen the development process and positive environment in the community as well as insure the sustainability and operational life of the community. The third essential element is community and public education, as people of the community should be aware of the potential hazards and social connection, which will ensure the endurance and protocols for safety and protection. Having and be able to use the zoning and building codes which are used internationally, would be another skill among community members, leading to enhanced resistance to disasters.
Politics affect resiliency to a greater extent because people in power are more likely to make a decision about the management, so if resiliency is not a political agenda or a government priority, then there are chances that resiliency will not be in the focus (Grove, 2014). The government and political parties have to make decisions to work on disaster resiliance. Federal policies are set to enhance and strengthen resiliency, and these policies and frameworks provide support and uniform laws. Communities and other organizations rely on federal government policies, which will enhance resilience. The policies in the United States are devised to strengthen national actions against disasters and terrorist acts (Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative, 2012).
For example, A Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-8) from 2011, which is titled National Preparedness, is a national guide for the activities that are carried out to strengthen security and resilience as well as national preparedness against potential disasters (Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative, 2012). Also, a large number of federal agencies play a key role in planning, mitigating and preparedness as well as response to the calamities. There are two fundamental laws in the United States that provide a robust functional framework for planning, responding, and recovering from natural or human-induced disasters, and these laws are the Stafford Act and the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative, 2012). The Stafford Act mainly focuses on responding to the disaster and not much on the resilience aspect. In short, the government of the United States and Congress understand the need for disaster resilience and are taking steps at the federal level to make progress in this aspect.
To conclude, disaster resilience is significant as disasters are going to occur, and the population is continuously increasing, which requires safety and security. Also, the cost of recovering from a disaster is more than the cost of planning and preparing for the disasters ahead. There are several ways in which resilience can be strategized, such as involving the community, increasing public-private partnerships, and enhancing communication. The government is also taking steps to meet the need for resilience in the developing world.