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J Environ Manage. 2008 Oct;89(1):4-13. Epub 2007 Sep 27.

Environmental implications for disaster preparedness: lessons learnt from the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

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United Nations Environment Programme, 2-110 Ryokuchi Koen, Tsurumi-ku, Osaka, Japan.


The impact of disasters, whether natural or man-made, not only has human dimensions, but environmental ones as well. Environmental conditions may exacerbate the impact of a disaster, and vice versa, disasters tend to have an impact on the environment. Deforestation, forest management practices, or agriculture systems can worsen the negative environmental impacts of a storm or typhoon, leading to landslides, flooding, silting, and ground/surface water contamination. We have only now come to understand these cyclical causes and impacts and realize that taking care of our natural resources and managing them wisely not only assures that future generations will be able to live in sustainable ways, but also reduces the risks that natural and man-made hazards pose to people living today. Emphasizing and reinforcing the centrality of environmental concerns in disaster management has become a critical priority, requiring the sound management of natural resources as a tool to prevent disasters and lessen their impacts on people, their homes, and livelihoods. As the horrors of the Asian tsunami of December 2004 continue to be evaluated, and people in the region slowly attempt to build a semblance of normalcy, we have to look to the lessons learnt from the tsunami disaster as an opportunity to prepare ourselves better for future disasters. This article focuses on findings and lessons learnt on the environmental aspects of the tsunami, and its implications on disaster preparedness plans. This article essentially emphasizes the cyclical interrelations between environments and disasters, by studying the findings and assessments of the recent Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that struck on 26 December 2004. It specifically looks at four key affected countries--Maldives, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Thailand.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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