Perspectives on Avoidable Deaths

Mr Daniel Mendez’s Perspective on Avoidable Deaths

Mr Daniel Mendez is a risk, crisis, and disaster manager with over 20 years of experience in the management of security and crisis situations at the national and local levels. Currently, Mr Mendez is working with the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), in Belize.

Dr Daniel Mendez’s Interview Transcript

  1. Do you believe it is possible to achieve the Sendai Framework’s first two global targets?  The first target is to substantially reduce disaster mortality by 2030, and the second target is to substantially reduce the number of affected people by 2030).

I believe that this is generally possible in countries that have adopted and are working toward achieving these goals. In other countries which have made little progress, it will be necessary to develop an urgent and comprehensive, whole of society approach toward these. This may be difficult to do if there is weak or no political support.

  1. In no more than two sentences what is the most effective way to achieve the Sendai Framework’s first two targets?

The most effective way of achieving these targets is to obtain the political support and willingness of the government, through which the necessary resources should be made available to the national disaster organization, its partners and stakeholders to achieve these goals.

  1. In your opinion which organisation should take the lead in achieving the Sendai’s first two targets?

I believe that this leadership role must be at the national level and rests with countries’ national disaster organizations and their parent ministries. While the UNDRR has an overall international coordination role, the Sendai Framework is implemented at the national level by these national disaster management organizations. It is, therefore, incumbent on these organizations to lead the efforts toward achieving all the Sendai targets. 

  1. Are you aware of any good practices in reducing the number of avoidable disaster deaths and affected people?

I believe that one of the most effective ways is to decrease the number of avoidable disaster deaths is through early warning. This should not be considered only in terms of advanced technological systems, rather, we should consider low tech methods as well. In Belize, there is heavy reliance on public radio during hurricanes. All radio stations turn their broadcasts into hours and sometimes days long broadcasts, providing the population with key messages from the national disaster organization as well as airtime to share any concerns the general population has. This has reduced the numbers of disaster deaths significantly.

  1. Why should we reduce avoidable disaster deaths and the number of people affected by disasters?

This is perhaps self-explanatory. Preserving life should be the most important priority for governments and national disaster organizations. In order to achieve this, it is vital that efforts be made to reduce the number of persons affected. This requires an understanding of the vulnerabilities that exist in populations as well as an excellent understanding of the affected populations. National disaster organizations must know their constituents well – living conditions, geography, physical risks etc. With this knowledge, governments can understand and develop the necessary interventions and investments that will save lives.

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