Complex Crises Compounded by COVID-19

CWS Japan | January 25, 2021

      When disasters hit communities in Asia, CWS staff are often on the front line to help people. As needed, CWS responds to families affected by floods, earthquakes and drought. Increasingly, CWS staff compile and share lessons learned from government and civil society disaster response. The focus of CWS analysis, like CWS responses, is largely on most-vulnerable people.

      The 2020 World Economic Forum’s global risk report highlighted an increasingly complex risk landscape for humanitarian action. Little did the authors know how the corona virus (COVID-19) outbreak would emphasize the report’s findings. COVID-19 illustrated this key point. It is not enough to have policies, protocols and practices that address one type of disaster at a time. Disaster During A Pandemic: Lessons From 2020 Flooding in South Japan presents information, analysis and anecdotes about the ways that COVID-19 showed the limits of preparedness. It also showed the incompleteness of action as previously planned.

      On July 4, 2020, Japan’s southern prefectures had record-breaking heavy rain. The rain caused devastating floods and landslides. At least 83 people were killed. More than 15,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Researchers for Disaster During A Pandemic analyzed published information and data. They also interviewed people directly affected by the floods and those involved in response action. The authors’ findings bring to light some of the complex impacts of cascading disasters. Chief among these is response management, and volunteerism, which are upended by disease like the coronavirus. Finally, the importance of a multi-hazard approach for future humanitarian response planning by governments and civil society is made evident to all who have time to read the report.

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