There has been an increase in disasters in the world as exhibited in the recent past. Since time immemorial, disasters have been known to occur causing emergency situations in many parts of the world. As a result of disasters, there is loss of life, destruction of properties worth million of shillings, mass displacement of millions of people leading to refuge status, psychological trauma among other issues (Cuny, 1983, p. 29). However, the severity of the above results depends on a country’s disaster preparedness and mitigation measures that have been put in place.
The modern world calls for quick response to disasters and various governments have formulated policies on how to deal with disasters and most importantly how to avoid them. Funds have been set aside that caters for any emergency situations that warrant a quick response by all sectors. According to Alexander (2002, p. 20), a disaster is a calamity which can be as a result of humans or can be natural and disposes a high risk to loss of life, deterioration of the health status of the affected, loss and destruction of properties and most at often causes environmental deterioration through loss of habitat and ecological imbalance.
Disasters result from a failure to handle a risk factor in the vulnerable environment or people. It is unfortunate, that most disasters with tragic and greater consequences affect the so called developing countries as compared to industrialized nations. Hoffman & Smith (2002, p. 20), notes that greater than 95% of fatal cases as a result of disaster occurs in less industrialized nations. Furthermore, natural disasters account for more than 20 times the losses in developing countries as compared to the industrialized nations.
Theses observations beg the question; what needs to be done in these developing nations so as to reduce the consequences of disasters. The answer can be found in developing an effective disaster management program to cater for emergencies. This essay focuses on development of a disaster management program specifically for China which is prone to disasters. It will tackle issues to do with hazard analysis, prevention, preparedness, response and the recovery plans in case of a disaster. Frequency and impact of disasters in China China as a country in the far eastern side of the Asian continent is prone to many natural and man-made disasters.
In the recent past, it has topped in disaster occurrences in the world with rise in the death toll and destruction of properties. China has an occurrence of six of disasters in the world which are classified as deadly due to their severe consequences. Among this top six disasters, the leading three affected China leading to deaths calculated to be in millions of people (CRED, 2009, para. 4). Historically, the China floods of 1931 had the greatest death toll of over 2 million people followed by the Yellow River floods of 1887 which had a death toll of over 0. 9 million.
Thirdly, the Shaanxi earthquake which occurred in 1556 claimed 0. 83 million lives. The frequency of occurrence of disasters in China has hindered both economic and social development of the country due to the resulting consequences. This has posed a challenge to the government of China in its effort to alleviate poverty mostly in the rural populations and in highly populated provinces. Efforts have been put in maintaining a data base for the disaster prone areas by organizations like International Disease Database (EM-DAT) and the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters.
This data helps in identifying the most disaster prone areas so as efforts are enhanced to reduce the risks involved therefore mitigating the hazard (CRED, 2009, para. 3-6). China has had an increased risk to occurrence of disasters than any other in the continent of Asia. Recently in August of 2010, China has been affected by landslides that resulted in the death of at least 127 people while thousands were missing and many people had to be evacuated to safer grounds. In this same year hundreds of people were feared dead in the mountainous area of Qinnghai after a 6.
9 earthquake struck the area. The area is inhabited by poor people who are highly prone to this kind of disaster. In 2009, there was also earthquake that killed more than 5000 students. Also, mine blasts were recorded to have caused deaths in this same year (Poyzner, 2010, para. 5). In the year 2008, several earthquakes were reported that caused deaths that amounted to thousands of people. In the same year land slides were reported causing destruction of property and loss of lives. The year 2005 was marked by mine blasts that consumed several lives of mine workers.
Virulent outbreaks of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome were recorded which also consumed several lives. As observed from the above data, three major disasters affecting China are Earthquakes, landslides and floods (Ponserre & Hoyois, 2006, para. 2-7). Frequency and impacts of earthquakes, landslides and floods in China According to Young et al. (2007, p. 299), China is one of the countries that experiences very strong intra-continental seismicity that leads to the frequent occurrence of earthquakes in the country.
High frequency has been noted in the Northern parts of China which have resulted into deaths of many people in that area. Occurrence of earthquakes in China is always catastrophic with china topping the list of the world’s earthquakes that have caused many loss of life. Since 1976, the Sichuan earthquake tops the list of casualties having caused the death of close to 70,000 people. Since then, the government of the People’s Republic of China took upon itself to come up with an earth quake administration that operated nationally.
Among the duties of this institution were to conduct monitoring of occurrence of earthquakes, conduct research in areas that were recorded to be prone or vulnerable especially in the north. Additionally, they had the responsibility of coordinating all emergency efforts in case an earthquake occurred. The institution changed its name after being legally mandated by an Act in their legislative laws. In 1998, it became the China Earthquake Administration that oversees the independent earthquake administrations in the provinces and regions.
The well coordinated efforts of this institution have seen quick emergency response to earthquake disasters thus minimizing the number of deaths. Earthquake occurrence in China is high compared to other nations around it. In this year alone, 300 people perished in April as a result of a 2. 9 earthquake. The year 2009 also recorded deaths from earthquakes. The year 2008 will remain remembered by many in China as in the month of May, over 50,000 people perished in southern China. The same quake caused a lot of destruction to infrastructure with 80% of buildings collapsing in one county.
Earthquakes have a high occurrence in China with hardly a year passing without any reports of earthquake. Joint efforts are called for in case of emergencies. In China the army is involved in conducting evacuation of the victims, providing medical services to the ailing evacuees, they undertake construction works to open communication and provide temporary shelters to the affected. China has been said to be geologically vulnerable to occurrence of landslides mainly due its topography. Several factors come into play that influences the occurrence of landslides.
This includes the climatic conditions mainly targeting on rainfall patterns, the soil type and its qualities and off course the soil covering in the said areas (Reilly, 2010, para. 5). Recently, there have been heavy rains in China which has resulted into a landslide in the hilly areas of Gansu. The landslide that occurred in the second week of August killed at least 127 people and left thousands missing. In addition, thousands of people had to be evacuated to safer grounds to reduce the casualty. In July, still several people were reported missing as a result of a landslide in the southern parts of China.
In the year 2009, southern China also experienced a major landslide that caused a lot of destruction to buildings and infrastrures such as roads and bridges. The year 2008 was not left behind, with a landslide that occurred in a mine without an operating license killing 254 people. As indicated above the impacts of these disasters are many with death topping the list, loss of properties and infrastructure and movement of people thus having a percentage of people who are homeless in their own country?
Nationally, theses disasters are a hindrance to economic growth and prosperity. They create disharmony in efforts to develop and are time and money consuming which would have been otherwise used somewhere else. Also, they create psychological stress and the people’s productivity is lowered. This has left many in poverty and relying on aid from well wishers and the government. The climatic conditions experienced in China exposes it to flooding. China experiences heavy rains in some seasons in the years causing breaking of river banks and the drainage system.
What follows is flood waters everywhere especially in the low lying areas sometimes reaching heights of over one meter. Currently in the month of August, China has experienced heavy summer rains causing flooding and mudslides in the provinces of Gansu and Yunnan. In the recent months alone, floods and landslides have caused the death of more than 1,500 residents who were unlucky and failed to be evacuated. In the months of June and July, more than 4200 people had to be evacuated to safer grounds in a government coordinated rescue mission.
A critical observation of flood data points the southern parts of China as the most vulnerable to flooding. China alone tops the world in the top six slots of the most catastrophic floods and landslides to be recorded in history. In the year 1931, the most catastrophic landslide in the world was recorded with deaths ranging from 2-4 million people. This flood also secures the first position as the top natural disaster in history having caused the highest number of loss of lives. Despite China being faced with lots of torrential rains in summer which cause floods, it produces a record grain harvest.
However, the yields have been affected by the floods. Apart from deaths caused by floods, they also impact negatively on crop yield by destroying crops in the farming fields. This has led to loss of millions of yuans in the export market and also confounded poverty index in China (Watts, 2010, para. 6). Apart from this, the floods have left millions of the Chinese people who live in the low level farm lands homeless and without a source of livelihood. There have been government efforts to construct levees and also hydroelectric projects from the flood waters.
The government has involved planners in developing projects that will see water being diversified into regions that receive less rainfall in the northern parts of the country. This will enable the excess water to be channeled to the arid regions. This will serve two purposes of controlling floods and trying to improve the agricultural activities in the north. Differences in frequencies and impacts of disasters The northern part of China has a diffuse zone which is prone to seismic activities as compared to other parts of China or even other countries.
The plate tectonics theory as is known by geologists helps in understanding seismic actions in China. There are tectonic movements due to the influence of the Indo-Asian collision due to motions in the crust in the continental China. There is gravitational movement leading to spreading of the tectonic plates which has a major influence in the deformation of the crust in much of Asia. The northern China block experiences higher seismicity than the southern parts due to high stress forces in the northern plates. The south China lacks this stress forces and moves together as one block hence reduced or no seismic activity.
Research has also shown that, as a result of previous seismic activity, an area is left prone to occurrences of similar stresses and seismic activity (Yang, 2007, p. 3). This explains the frequency of occurrence of tectonic earthquakes in the northern parts unlike in other areas of the continental Asia. China as indicated above has been faced by many catastrophic floods that have resulted into many losses. There are many causes of floods which lead to China being more vulnerable to them in comparison to other nations.
First and foremost, China experiences heavy torrential rains in summer most in the southern parts of the country. The rains come in flashes which often supersedes the holding capacity of China’s drainage system. Most of the rivers in the affected areas break their banks leading to water spreading in the low lying areas which are mainly inhabited by the farmers. This causes havoc to their crops and their dwellings. In its efforts to industrialization, China has many factories and motor vehicles in their roads (Hilhorst, Dijkzeul & Herman, 2010, p. 122) This has led to pollution of the air and hence the ozone layer is destroyed.
As a result global warming is accelerated and this has led to snowmelt in spring and the water going into the sea. The rise in sea level consequently causes a rise in the river levels which then breaks and cause flooding. The relief of China also hastens flooding. In the lowlands, the rivers will flow much slowly and any change in the water volume will cause flooding in the low lying areas. China borders the ocean in a very large area unlike other countries. The coastal areas experiences high tides and heavy storms that leads to rise in the sea level.
If the level surpasses the level of the low lands at the coast, flooding occurs in these areas. In addition, the high population in China also may exacerbate the problem of flooding. The high population needs life necessities like food and shelter. As a result, they cultivate and inhabit the low lying areas which are prone to flooding. Their uncontrolled cultivation of the land will lead to soil erosion and the land cover is destroyed. The land is therefore left bare and with increased risks of floods during heavy rains. Many forces do interplay to hold the land surfaces together.
The force of critical importance is friction which holds the various layers of the soil in a compact nature. Any interruption to this force of friction causes a slippery motion and results in landslides. Gravity plays the key factor in causation of landslides. If at any time the force of gravity supersedes the force of friction, a landslide will occur. Water is the common trigger of landslide since the sippage of water into the ground causes reduction of friction that exists between the bedrock and the upper sediment layers of soil. When this happens, debris of soil is sent downhill.
Due to the torrential rainfall in China, landslides are imminent especially in the sloppy areas. China experiences a high frequency of earthquakes as compared to any other country. Consequently, the seismic waves cause vibration in the earth’s surface which upsets the existing frictional forces and causes landslides (Helmer & Hilhorst, 2006, p. 106). Landslides are therefore common in earthquake regions as well as areas prone to flooding. Volcanic eruptions have also been shown to result in landslides in areas that have recently experienced volcanic activity.
In addition, human activities like blasting during mining process and vibrations as a result of heavy traffic also cause earthquakes. China has had its citizens lose their lives as a result of mine blasting activities as the mines collapse burying the miners alive. China has had its exceptional share of these disasters as a result of these predisposing factors. Conclusion In conclusion, disasters have continued affecting many parts of this world. Despite the preparations that are put in place a lot deserves to be enhanced to minimize the tendency of occurrence of disasters.
While some natural disasters are inevitable as they are beyond human control, mitigational measures should be enhanced to take care of the rise in these cases. China tops the list of most fatal disasters that have been recorded in historical times. The top three have been the frequent earthquakes in the northern parts, deadly floods in the low lying areas which have brought havoc to the people inhabiting these areas and finally the landslides which also have caused destruction of property.
With these disasters occurring frequently in china, the government has had to come up with an authority that is concerned with disaster management. It has a well established system of disaster mitigation which tends to prevent the disposing hazards turning into disasters. Secondly, they have preparedness measures that involve enhancing their capabilities to fight disasters. They also do have a well developed disaster response system (Harrald, 2006, p. 256). Finally, recovery measures are enhanced to return into normalcy. Whatever they do all efforts must be directed towards saving lives.
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