In reference to the editorial published in the May 9, 2014, issue of The Daily Star entitled “Put reality before risk,” I would like to elaborate in order to provide a more precise picture of Disaster Risk Reduction, which Switzerland and the United Nations Development Program are focusing on.
The tsunami risk mentioned in the article is simply one example as it could easily be enacted in Jbeil. The idea is not to help in case of tsunamis specifically, and we all indeed hope it will never happen again, but in case of any disaster, natural or manmade. Indeed, a few days earlier there was a fire in Baabda and the response could have been better.
DRR, which Switzerland and the UNDP are focusing on, can mean a lot of different events. We are trying to help the Lebanese to improve their capacity to respond to disasters and to coordinate among themselves, not only tsunamis. I remember when the multistory house collapsed in Fassouh, the lack of coordination among Lebanese authorities had been stigmatized.
In view of this, the DRR program works with the office of the prime minister to have an operative cell, it works at local level with municipal authorities and unions of municipalities, it has created a booklet to help the architects and contractors to build more solid buildings, and it has rehabilitated schools in the south where lots of earth tremors occur.
Worldwide, when disaster strikes, the poorest are killed the first for various reasons. Is it not better and cheaper to try to prevent the consequences of disaster than to help after the event?
If further explanation is required, my colleagues from the Swiss Development Cooperation will be happy to provide any information you or your readers might be interested in. The director of SDC’s Office in Beirut, Mrs. Heba Hage, reads us in copy and the SDC’s webpage is: www.swiss-cooperation.admin.ch/middleeast/en/Home/SDC_in_the_Region/SDC_Lebanon
Ruth Flint is Switzerland’s ambassador to Lebanon.