Role of civil engineering

Engineering, as well as science and technologies, play key roles in monitoring hazards and vulnerabilities, developing an understanding of their continually changing patterns and in developing tools and methodologies for disaster risk reduction. The dissemination and application of new strategies and measures to protect lives, livelihoods and property within societies experiencing dynamic change are key areas of work for the scientific and technical communities.

However, the limitations of science and technology in espousing to the fundamental problems of people and political processes in identifying and managing risk factors need to be carefully considered. An over-concentration on technical abilities at the expense of being able to motivate the human aspects that compose the economic, social and political dimensions of societies will continue to provide disappointing results in effective or sustained commitments to risk reduction. One cannot fix disaster risk with technology alone.

It is also a matter of enacting and enforcing laws, alluding and maintaining institutions that are accountable, and producing an environment of mutual respect and trust between government and the population. Our expanding science and technology base makes possible this concerted cooperative international effort, and communications is a central part of that effort for public education, early warning, evacuation and coordination of post-disaster relief. Mass communication is inextricably entwined with disasters and hazard mitigation.

Reflecting the publics great interest and concern, the electronic and print media extensively cover natural disasters and significantly affect how and what the public learns about and how it perceives natural hazards. Improving the linkages between the media and disaster-mitigation researchers and practitioners could prepare the public to act promptly on warnings; helping to mitigate disasters. This could also accelerate the shift of the societal emphasis from post-disaster relief toward pre-disaster initiatives.