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Position Paper on Natural Disasters and Their Effects watch

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    Submitted by the Union of Myanmar
    On the topic of Natural Disasters


    Even in our era of technological advances, there is very little that can stop natural disasters from devastating poorer countries. Myanmar has noted with interest the need for a global effort to deal with the potential effects of natural disasters and this paper aims both to set out proposals for solutions to the problem of natural disasters and ways to deal with the aftermath of various disasters. Myanmar hopes that it can also set out plans for a global system to better predict various disasters and save as many lives as possible before said disaster hits.

    Hurricane Katrina


    Hurricane Katrina struck many states within the USA most notably New Orleans. The path of the hurricane is shown below:


    It must be noted here that 1836 died in the hurricane and it's aftermath. The aftermath of this hurricane included, most notably, the flooding of New Orleans. Mississippi also suffered a greater degree of flooding that New Orleans, however, due to the loss of human life in New Orleans, it is this disaster that we remember today. New Orleans saw a huge loss of human life and also great economic damage. The total economic cost was $81 billion. USA's initial response was to declare a state of emergancy. While this obviously reflects the nature of the situation at hand, it was only two days later on 28th August 2005 that a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans was ordered. At this point, many computer models were predicting that Katrina would indeed cause serious damage to New Orleans. This shows that hurricanes are very difficult to predict. What should be noted here is that it was only during the course of the hurricane that information was changed. Note also that the hurricane was already being considered as a danger to New Orleans as early as the 26th August 2005 with a 17% chance of certainty. Myanmar questions here as to why no evacuation was ordered at this point where there was approximately a one in five chance of the hurricane hitting the city. On 28th August, the chance was only 26% a one in four chance. Not only was the evacuation ordered 2 days after initial calculations showed a significant chance, but future reports would show that 2/3 of the city's flood walls were subject to multiple failures.

    The disaster led to $105 billion being needed for re-construction. This was requested by the Bush administration to pay both compensation and also for re-construction. Some money would have been required for refugees. Many states experienced a surge in refugees due to this disaster. 220,000 people left Louisiana to go to other states. This represented a 4.87% drop in the population of the state which would reduce it's economic output. The oil and forestry industries suffered with 39 plants in the oil industry shut down and £5 billion worth of damage to the forestry industry.

    Beaches suffered widespread erosion and mating grounds for many species were lost due to Katrina. Many refineries and oil rigs spilled oil into waters.

    Note that this is coupled with flood waters being pumped into a nearby lake. The flood water was mixed with various pollutants resulting in further, but concentrated, areas of pollution as a result of the clean-up.

    Lawlessness is a result of disasters, as will be shown in later examples. Here looting was widespread. Many attempted to loot various stores with guns and this was a particular feature noted in many articles and news outlets in the world.

    Government Response


    The Government response was, most notably, criticised along the lines of racism and delay. The Bush administration provided various schemes of housing aid, such as paying for hotels. The administration also encouraged migration to other areas and this was widespread within four weeks. Mutual law enforcement was provided by other states to curb illegal activities such as looting. An enquiry found that many levies were not up to modern building regulations, but have since been rebuilt in line with these standards.

    What can be learnt?


    Myanmar notes various lessons. Myanmar believes that 17% was too high a likelihood to not consider and actively enforce evacuation. The death toll could have been vastly reduced by enforcing evacuation 2 days earlier. Myanmar here argues for an international system as follows:

    When more than one computer model predicts the direction of a storm to be the same, the following will apply:

    0 - 5% - Negligible statistical data here.

    6 - 8% - Evacuation a minor possibility

    9 - 10% - Evacuation should be considered a major possibility

    11% + - Enforced evacuation

    Myanmar argues that evacuating on lower percentages will allow for evacuating people further from the disaster zone. Myanmar believes that this will undoubtedly save people's lives. Myanmar also argues for an evacuation fund to allow people to both leave and return to their homes without fear of financial problems. Myanmar believes that this will significantly reduce the stress on people dispersed by natural disasters.


    Haiti Earthquake


    On 12th January 2010, Haiti was struck by a magnitude 7 earthquake and this was followed up by at least 52 aftershocks. The measurements of each aftershock and the initial earthquake are shown below:


    Myanmar would like to begin by noting that at least 3 million people were effected by the earthquake. 1.5 million were affected in various major ways such as death, injury or homelessness. 30000 commercial buildings collapsed or were severely damaged by the earthquake reducing the ability of the private sector to aid recovery through such things as private sector aid, continued employment or even being able to be used as temporary accommodation upon confirmation that any aftershocks were over. The pledge of humanitarian aid was huge throughout the world with many countries offering to provide various means of aid such as rescue teams and financial aid. Attempts to get aid to the effected areas were hampered by air traffic control problems over the prioritisation of flights.

    The earthquake devastated health and education services as well as communication services. The lack of healthcare prevented a quick response to the situation and the collapse of mortuaries led to the inability to gather bodies from the street. This led to the undesirable situation of mass graves, but this was a swift solution to dealing with the dead. As mentioned earlier, air traffic control was severely affected by the earthquake and this prevented the arrival of many aid agencies. The education sector was reduced to half capacity as 1300 education related buildings collapsed. The shanty towns that emerged did provide some form of education as the government was unable to deal with this crisis in the midst of the overall crisis. The clothing sector was decimated. This provided 2/3 of Haiti's exports and once again prevented the private sector providing any assistance to the government in terms of maintaining pre-earthquake employment levels. The United Nations mission in the area was also severely affected with the mission leader unfortunately perishing in the disaster. Experts did note that most buildings would have been unable to withstand the effects of an earthquake. Once again, Myanmar calls for planning laws to be clearly set out with international standards and enforced.

    Migration to the Dominican Republic was a major effect of homelessness, but the Dominican government did not support widespread migration over the border. The government offered temporary stays to those injured people who had come to receive hospital treatment, but were opposed to the widespread migration. This mainly was due to the potential strain upon Dominican services. Many shanty towns were established in the ruins of Port-au-Prince, but many embarked upon a programme of self-organisation. Although looting was a problem, there were reports of singing, education and security groups being organised to boost morale and protect the weakest in society.

    Many states sent rescue teams to search through the rubble for those survivors. Other states allowed Haitians to migrate, albeit temporarily, to their shores. Canada enacted temporary migration and accepted 130,000 Haitians for 18 months to allow for rebuilding. The adoption of orphans by American and Dutch families was initial embarked upon, but ceased due to international condemnation at such an act for reasons of a lack of records meant that families of children were not easily traced.

    In healthcare, medical supplies ran low due to initial border and airspace problems. MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres) noted that hospitals were overwhelmed and that medical supplies either had to be re-used or made from equipment available.

    Government Response


    Many government offices and buildings, even the presidential palace, were destroyed by the earthquake. This meant many records were lost in the aftermath and the initial event. Haiti relied heavily on foreign aid, but it was unable to co-ordinate any relief effort due to the lack of governmental buildings. Even 9 months after the disaster, little has changed and the government response has been slow at best.

    What can be learnt?


    Myanmar here believes that strict building codes must be enforced. In both cases, the lack of quality in buildings has resulted in more deaths. Myanmar believes that setting out clear and concise rules must be the aim of the international community and that the enforcement of these rules must be our priority. Myanmar also believes that emergency air traffic control and key infrastructure plans must be put into place. These can be decided by individual countries, but Myanmar would argue strongly for the control of air traffic and key infrastructure to be transferred to the UN within 2 hours of the disaster to allow for a swift reaction to any disaster. Myanmar believes that this will relieve any burden on healthcare services and allow foreign aid to enter the country swiftly. Myanmar also believes that mass migration should be a last resort in many cases, but that, if it is needed, then other countries should receive financial incentives to help them deal with the fallout from any crisis.

    Flooding in Pakistan


    Flooding has occurred in Pakistan on 26th July 2010. Current thinking suggests that heavy monsoon rain is to blame for this natural disaster. Currently 2000 people have died and over one million homes have been destroyed with 21 million people injured or homeless. What is of particular note here is the weak and slow international response. There is speculation that a freezing of the jet stream is to blame for the flooding, which is also believed to be related to other flooding and wildfires in the world. Below is a picture of the extent of flooding:



    The major effects of the disaster are currently: homelessness, infrastructure devastation and disease outbreaks. Gastroenteritis and diarrhea have already struck many victims of the floods and fears of cholera are currently high following the outbreak of the disease in the town of Mingora. While Haiti was affected by a lack of vital medical equipment, the diseases mentioned are even more difficult to treat due to the inaccessibility of many regions. Over 800,000 are estimated to dwell in remote regions making the treatment of many individuals extremely difficult. While helicopters have reached some people, the sheer amount of people requiring medical attention has left this service stretched to breaking point and requiring at least 40 more helicopters to deal with the floods. The long term effects of the floods are predicted to be widespread. Many effects will be political and economic based on the situation concerning food. With floods destroying many crops and roads damaged severely as well. Crops and infrastructure will require huge amounts of reconstruction to bring it back to former levels. The political effects could be a rise in the Taliban, something feared by the British government, and future unrest. Economically speaking, many crops have been lost as well as large amounts of livestock. This has created food shortages which will lead to inflation. Milk supplies have fallen by 15% and prices are expected to rise by 5 US cents. The automotive industry has also suffered as a result of the flooding with manufacturing output being reduced by 25% of previous levels. Furthermore economic growth has been severely affected and is not expected to return to the 2009 levels for many years.

    Government Response


    The Government has been continually criticised for a slow and chaotic response. Local government corruption has also been a widespread problem. With the world being slow to react to the disaster, Pakistan has struggled to help it's people somewhat due to the lack of aid.

    What can be learnt


    Certainly this disaster was unpredictable, but Myanmar believes that more money should be invested in researching the gulf stream and using this data to create more accurate computer models to aid future evacuations and planning for disasters. Myanmar also would like to see funding held aside by the UN for help with any and all disasters. This will be released to countries affected and will prevent further accusations of sluggish responses. It will also end sole dependency on foreign aid in times of major disasters. Transport links must also be maintained and be able to withstand disasters to prevent so many people being trapped by inaccessible areas once again.

    Conclusions from the three sources of evidence


    The three disasters highlighted show a clear need for better contingency plans in these situations. In a future report, Myanmar will develop the initial findings of this position paper into resolutions and will examine the link between climate change and natural disasters. Myanmar recognises the devastating nature of natural disasters and offers it's condolences to all victims of natural disasters.

    Suggestions for Action


    Myanmar suggests that the following actions are taken:

    - New International Evacuation System based on computational model's accuracy probability. If two or more computers predict the same catastrophe, the following will occur:

    0 - 5% - Negligible statistical data here.

    6 - 8% - Evacuation a minor possibility

    9 - 10% - Evacuation should be considered a major possibility

    11% + - Enforced evacuation

    - An international fund for evacuation should be set up to prevent worries about finding money in these difficult times in natural disasters

    - Stricter building codes based on the potential to survive natural disasters

    - A government department set up to deal with emergency infrastructure

    - The passing over of control of air traffic control and shipping lanes to the UN within 2 hours of a disaster striking to allow aid to reach the affected zone quickly.

    - A fund set up to pay nearby states to take in people displaced by the natural disaster

    - More money set aside in a natural disasters fund to be dispatched upon confirmation of a need for aid in a natural disaster

    - The maintenance of better transport links to prevent people becoming trapped.

    - More money set aside to research the gulf stream and other causes of natural disasters.


    Myanmar believes that these initial ideas will help save lives and welcomes the responses and ideas of it's fellow representatives to the first in a series of position papers on this subject.


    Acknowledgments:


    All facts have been sourced from wikipedia and backed up, where possible, by news reports

    All images have been sourced from wikipedia. I do not claim ownership of them and use them merely to illustrate my points.
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    The Secretary General thanks Myanmar for this thoughtful and concise Position Paper, and hopes that other nations will offer their opinions. This issue may be worthy of a Summit in the future.
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    OOC: I will comment on this soon but damn.Really good paper.
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    The People's Republic of China understands the effects of devastating naturual disasters very well, having suffered many such occurrances, most notably just prior to the Beijing Olympics in 2008. We are keen to work with other countries to improve response methods to such disasters.
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    Very good, Finland appreciates the amount of work that went into creating this document.
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    Myanmar thanks the representatives for their pledges of support in this issue. Myanmar asks what the representatives think of it's possible responses to natural disaster prevention.
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    ooc Toronto...seriously good work there!
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    (Original post by jakemittle)
    ooc Toronto...seriously good work there!

    ooc: thanks. I have some pretty big ideas that stem from this and I would like to get a conference or summit up about it along with a follow up report with more details on the actual proposals.
 
 
 
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