How do you prevent deaths during a natural disaster? By being as prepared as possible before an emergency strikes...
We can’t stop hurricanes or earthquakes, typhoons or floods. But we can prepare for them. Disaster Risk Reduction is about taking steps to reduce the impact that a disaster can have, before it has even taken place.
Protecting the most vulnerable
When Ma and Kham's home in The Philippines was hit by flash floods, bedridden Ma had to be carried to safety by his neighbours.
Pictured: 80 year-old Ma and Kham were unable to climb onto the roof to escape the rising water, but were rescued by their neighbours.
After the storm had passed, we built Ma and Kham a stronger house, which can withstand floodwaters and strong winds. We also helped to put a community rescue plan in place, so that older people like Ma can get to safety if disaster strikes again.
Pictured: Kham watches as Ma walks unassisted down the ramp outside their new house
Kham still worries when she hears that floods may be coming, but she says that the work that has been done since the floods and community safety plan give her comfort.
How Age International helps older people to prepare for disasters
We use different techniques to help older people to prepare for disasters, such as:
- Teaching older farmers how to protect their crops
- Making sure older people have early warning of disasters
- Setting up stores for seeds and food, and running community savings schemes
In Jamaica hurricane Sandy destroyed Mrs Blake's crops, so we gave her seeds and showed her how to re-plant. 'I learnt to dig trenches in order to stop landslides,' she says.
Pictured: Mrs Blake, 85, cuts banana leaves on her land in Jamaica. This process makes the trees more likely to survive heavy rains.
Pictured: After Typhoon Yolanda hit The Philippines, we distributed solar-powered warning radios to people living in isolated parts of the islands
Pictured: A village savings group helps older people in Sierra Leone to save money for future disasters.
Older people and disaster risk reduction
Older people can play a huge role in Disaster Risk Reduction. In fact, older people lead the majority of our Disaster Risk Reduction work on-the-ground.
Pictured: Older people in The Philippines are taught how to safety travel through floodwater, in case of another typhoon
Their local knowledge and years of experience make them an invaluable asset in planning, preparing, and minimising potential damage; village elders and traditional knowledge holders are invaluable sources of local information which, when combined with science and technology, form a powerful tool.
We can't stop disasters. But, thanks to disaster risk reduction work, we can save more lives when emergencies hit.
Read this next...