Being prepared for natural disaster
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CTA. 2005. Being prepared for natural disaster. Rural Radio Resource Pack 2005. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57401
Agricultural rehabilitation needs to be a part of disaster response planning, including preservation and supply of local planting materials.
Being prepared for natural disaster Suggested introduction: When a natural disaster occurs, such as a flood or a hurricane, the immediate need for government is to save lives and provide basic services, such as healthcare, clean water and shelter, as quickly as possible. Where food crops are also lost, requesting and distributing food from other countries is often seen as the best option to prevent people starving. In the short term this may true, but there is also a growing awareness among Caribbean disaster-response planners that more effective strategies for restoring agricultural production are needed. They argue that Caribbean countries need to develop their own resources, in order to make their agricultural systems more robust in the face of disaster, and so that the rebuilding of agricultural productivity can take place quickly and effectively when disaster strikes. Responding effectively to disasters, particularly in terms of maintaining food production, was one of the subjects discussed at a recent conference in Belize. Susanna Thorp spoke to two of the participants about the importance of agricultural rehabilitation as a part of disaster response planning in the Caribbean. Firstly, Jennifer Maynard, liaison officer for international and regional organisations in Antigua. IN: ?Up to now national disaster plans? OUT: ? move it back into the country.? DUR?N 5?48? Back announcement: Neville McAndrew and Jennifer Maynard were talking to Susanna Thorp about the need for agricultural rehabilitation to be part of natural disaster response plans in the Caribbean. Transcript Maynard Up to now national disaster plans and regional disaster plans tend to be human life and human settlement. And anything to do with food has to do with bringing food in for the immediate hunger. So they bring in bags of rice, they bring in bags of corn, some organisations bring in seeds and fertiliser and weed control. What do you do? With the weed control you are going and doing a massive kill, and you are killing indigenous species, the species that are the recovery species. Two, the disaster, depending on what it is, can damage your landraces, it can destroy your indigenous, robust planting material or livestock material. And the recovery seed aid can actually be other species that replace that original species, so that you can in fact end up eroding your bio-diversity. So for instance Antigua, if you lose your eggplant and your sweet potato varieties, which are responsive to our drought conditions, in the inundation of a flood of a hurricane and then your food aid seeds come in and replace it with another variety, you can in fact to me actually create a situation where you are building further on that to further make yourself insecure because you just don?t have your landraces that you can fall back on. Thorp So it really requires investment now to get the long term rehabilitation plans in place not just the disaster preparedness? Maynard Yes, one rehabilitation of agriculture has to be built into a national disaster plan. So you need to be planning, one, germplasm collections, and two, farmers and producers, we actually need to begin to do some trials and experiments with what can be done to protect at a particular level of wind or particular level of rain. Because as I say disaster preparedness has generally concentrated very specifically on human life and shelter for human life. But it has not necessarily looked at the need for conservation, protection and rehabilitation of seeds and animal genetic resources. Thorp So how can you get this message across to the people that need to know? Maynard I think that our disaster preparedness committees need to be required to have an agriculture recovery section which is as important as human life and shelter section. I don?t think we have all the solutions, so it is a planning problem, it is a research problem, and it is actually the need to have these agriculture people actively part of the disaster preparedness mechanism so that we can recover. Because yes, human settlement and human life is important but if human life does not have food to eat it will end up being worse off than it was prior to the disaster. NARR Also at the conference was Neville McAndrew, an agronomist with the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, CARDI, in Belize. He spoke more about the need for Caribbean countries to be saving planting material from their own crop varieties, to use when crops are destroyed by natural disasters. McAndrew The Caribbean region is subjected to just about every natural disaster you can think of. Hurricanes are the most common and regular but we know about volcanoes, we know about earthquakes, tidal waves, floods are common and we have to make plans to provide farmers with the planting materials and the necessary inputs to get their production going after a disaster event. Thorp So as we have seen recently in Asia it is not just about the short term relief, it is actually about the long term rehabilitation? McAndrew It is about the long-term rehabilitation yes. Short term relief you can bring relief supplies in but at the same time we must have in place the necessary steps that will allow the farmers to get back to the land as quickly as possible after a disaster event. Thorp And to be growing the appropriate types of crops? McAndrew And to be growing the appropriate types of crops. Unfortunately in our region most of the traditional crops are landraces that you would not find the type of planting material available in commercial houses. Most of the farmers rely on the crops to get the planting materials and if the crop is destroyed, the planting material for the subsequent crop goes with it. Thorp So is there no genebank collection for that landrace material that is held in the region? McAndrew At this moment to the best of my knowledge no. Thorp Presumably it is very expensive to set up a genebank so that is perhaps one of the constraints to doing so? McAndrew It is not a genebank as a germplasm collection as such. What you will be collecting is germplasm of the important food crops and those are multiplied and they are periodically put back into the countries as commercial seed. But what is important is that you will always have a quantity of that material available in the event of a disaster that you can rapidly move it back into the country. End of track.