Natural disasters have always made man feel helpless in spite of technological advances, for example earthquakes, floods etc. Apart from the trail of death and destruction of human property this leaves behind, it also causes widespread destruction of ecological habitats with lasting effects on the populations of several species.
The consequences vary from loss of livelihood for fishermen to unknown damages to coral reefs and flora and fauna when waves come a few miles inland. In some fragile areas down on the coast, it may take years for the coral reefs to recover, and mangrove stands and coastal tree plantations may be destroyed or severely affected. With so much seawater coming inland, salination is another effect that makes the soil less fertile to support vegetation and increases erosion, thus impacting food insecurity. For people, fisheries, housing and infrastructure are the worst affected.
Land reclamation for agriculture and settlement, setting up of resorts on high-risk beaches and the drastic loss of mangrove forests by man increases the damage caused by these disasters. Are we prepared for natural disasters?
People have to learn to respect the forces of nature in the quest for development and better opportunities. The indiscriminate conversion of natural shorelines and mangrove forest ecosystems for farming, urban settlements, tourism development and other often unregulated and unplanned human activities, over the past several decades have made the coastal areas and its inhabitants much more vulnerable to the immense destructive force of earthquakes or floods.
Apart from modern technology, we can also use natural barriers to protect us from natural disasters. Coral reefs for example act as natural breakwaters, providing a physical barrier that reduces the force of a wave before it reaches the shore, on the other hand mangrove forests act as natural shock absorbers, also reducing destructive wave energy and buffering against coastal erosion.
The role of local communities in disaster management is very important. Many senior citizens are aware of incidents that happened in the past, which others may not be aware of, and what human actions impacted them. One just needs to make them aware of the risks faced, and provide support to make sure that the environmental impact of human activities is honestly addressed and considered before more disasters happen.