Preparedness for response to future disaster risk reduction
Evidence from recent disasters in other locations, shows that initial support, and a very significant portion of the total support provided, comes from the local community. It may take days for outside responders to gain access to affected areas due to the time needed to contact and assemble personnel, transportation limitations, or unfamiliarity to the area. Clearly it is the people in the community who will be the first response on the scene and can play a significant role in community disaster prevention. With this in mind, in 2001 the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society (SARCS) began a community based approach with an integrated disaster preparedness and health training programme for local volunteers with input and involvement from government agencies such as the Civil Defence and the Ministry of Health.
The National Society was able to test their approach in 2002 during the Zaizon Dam disaster response. After the disaster response phase, a post disaster review and risk reduction meeting was held with the community and volunteers. The learning lead to changes in Disaster Management within the SARCS and community and a decision to hold a community disaster simulation exercise followed. The outcomes helped to inform the National Society about its Disaster Management planning needs in 2003-2004.