management of large scale disasters,
what we can learn from Haiti
Haiti: 200,000 people dead.
But now we are facing a
different disaster, a psychosocial disaster. Once the
first crisis is past, disaster victims are faced with
having to rebuild their destroyed lives.
Large scale disasters, manmade
or natural, usually involve loss of life, injury and
loss of protection and shelter. But what is often not
recognised, is that disasters also destroy the social
and psychological fabric and the resilience of communities.
Relationships are lost, families torn apart, communities
dislocated and disintegrated.
The immediate response to
a disaster is usually that rescue workers, organisations
and volunteers rush to the scene, but a month later
the heroic rescue effort starts coming to an end, and
the aid workers depart. They leave behind a traumatised
population without the psychological and social resources
to put their lives together again. It may take years,
even decades for individuals and communities to recover
from the trauma.
A psychosocial management
strategy for disaster response is as much part of an
overall risk limitation plan as rescue services.