Saturday, November 1, 2014
Meeriyabedda Landslide – Why always the same mistakes in the aftermath?
Don’t we ever learn? Why is our disaster response to a manageable disaster chaos!
Let’s get a grip on the rational need for common sense without making it a political statement. Whys is the GOSL making political capital out of people's suffering?
It was most shameful, and shameless of the President who turns up at the disaster zone and begins making utterances that are reported as “Ada Derana Breaking news", that in an instant belittled that news as being a joke. Telling the child protective services to protect the kids is like asking your grandmother to suck eggs.
In short Sri Lanka has a Disaster Management Cabinet Minister, Deputy Minister, a fully overstaffed Ministry and sufficient funds allocated to manage a disaster of this magnitude. Further we have a tried and tested approach to this type of emergency, where the Divisional Secretariat where the disaster occurs WILL have data on the place, and the Divisional Secretary and his team will be able to provide immediate assistance and assess the situation correctly, and give exact indications of the needs assessment. Govt then responds accordingly.
ALL DONATIONS and AID must be handled through this channel without POLITICIANS OF ALL PARTIES DESCENDING FOR PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES like a bunch of lunatics just freed from an asylum.
Let’s face the reality. We don’t know even today, 4 days after the event how many are missing. This is due to the lack of procedures to know how many homes were destroyed, and taking the census of who lived in those homes. It is a simple procedure today, in the era of computers not to have records ONLY in a house that also was destroyed with the data!
Secondly it is a simple matter of housing all the people who lost their homes in a school, provide them with immediate hot meals, warm clothes, but most importantly grief counselling and taking appropriate measures to protect children who don’t have a close relative adult who can be their temporary guardian in case of missing parents.
Remember further after 4 days less than 15 bodies have so far been recovered, and we don’t have the resources, to dig out bodies, and we must accept that we cannot hope to search for survivors at this stage.
Once the needs assessment of the 250 survivors housed in a school is made and provisions collected from Govt funds, the next step would be to calmly evacuate people from other threatened areas and house them accordingly.
So what is this guilt trip that the rest of the Country are engaged in? People are all clamoring to help, dropping of clothes and dry rations and water, to take, drive, transport to Koslanda.
I AM NOT belittling generosity, but it should NOT BE MISPLACED out of guilt. The Govt. has the infrastructure, resources, and personnel to manage this disaster, without any help from the public in the short term. The public SHOULD have been advised to deposit money into an account which will be fully transparent as to how the money would be spent on orphaned children of the disaster.
If it is just 1000 blankets they really need, they could call on a party to provide it, if there is a donor, or they could simply source it and transport it faster than any of us!! It is therefore crazy that all sorts of bags are deposited by people trying to help, and using collection points, where all this stuff will end is anybody’s guess.
It is a later matter of collecting donations now, when people are most generous to use it later for the care of orphaned children, which is the most useful use of people’s generosity for long term support.
I AM SURE a whole industry is sprouting in Koslanda to distribute the largesse to those THAT ARE NOT NEEDY. We saw it at Tsunami and we see it now. The donors are completely ignorant.
If you deny my hypothesis then there is ABJECT FAILURE ON THE PART OF THE GOVT. OF SRI LANKA and the President should resign in shame.
As for the recovery of the bodies, it is a matter of debate if we should attempt to do so, or let the landslide be a reminder and memorial to the incompetence of the authorities to stress the potential for danger, and the further incompetence to protect the environment and degradation of lands, and felling of old growth trees, that precipitated this landslide, which WOULD NOT have occurred if a longer term plan of environmental protection was followed.
I hope this is a firm reminder of more to come, and the AUTHORITIES take immediate steps to prevent landslides, by engaging in regeneration activity, whilst at the same identifying all landslide prone areas AT MOST RISK and removing human abodes from those areas by providing alternative accommodation to the affected people, at least as if not much better than present, so that they will HAVE NO inclination to defy authorities and move back to abandoned homesteads.
If you have something to add or take issue with me on this please do, as in proportion to the physically affected people today, it is a small number of survivors.