Sri Lanka has had several disasters in the past, but yet to see a proper contingency plan. As a result many human lives are lost and severe damages caused to private and government properties.
Politicians and officials who suppose to act during disasters must consider it as a privilege and opportunity in helping the affected people and pre-plan to face such situations.
I saw several announcements through the media advising people to evacuate from certain areas. Have the people being told in advance where to go, what to take and other things to attend before evacuating.
Once Load Buddha saw a row of Black Ants and slightly smiled and when Ananda Thera inquired why, Lord Buddha said each and very Black Ant had been a Sakvithi King in an earlier birth. Anyone not doing good karma can go to hell in the next birth irrespective of whatever position he now hold.
One need to be intelligent to understand the danger and suffering in this long samsara journey.
I mention below in brief my recommendations under different headings.
A doctor and at least 2 nurses with adequate medical equipment and drugs should be made available at all refugee camps during activated period. Arrangements must be made to have the services of an Ambulance
All people in identified areas should be made aware in advance by pasting a notice in all such houses informing them the place allocated for them to go for shelter and advising them what should be taken along with them including documents. Issue them identity cards for identification. Issue life jackets to each persons with instructions. Paste notices, re-important contact nos. to contact before or during disaster. Paste notices on how to protect properties of people leaving their houses.
MANAGEMENT OF REFUGEE CENTRES:
Refugee Centres in each Divisional Secretarial area should be identified and attend to have a record of how many male and female refugees can be accommodated. Plan temporary separations for changing cloths. Install permanent generators.Prepare names and addresses of people with their working skills to be accommodated and copies to be given to Divisional Secretary, Grama Sevaka and Head of Centres. Obtain the consent of the Heads of Centres. Identified skilled persons can be used to attend to electrical, Plumbing, Civil, Cooking work etc. Construct male female toilets on permanent basis with water Tanks, Shower cubicles, Store Rooms, working staff accommodations, Doctor room with the clinic & sick room, Kitchen. Install temporary Radio communication sets. Lockers to take charge valuables and store during occupation. Temporary make available water & gully bowsers when activated. Deploy security staff 24 hrs at entrances. Adequate staff to manage during operations, Government officers can be detailed similar to election duties. Provide adequate lights, plug points etc.. Install TV in a common sheltered area during operations or permanently. Keep notice of all important Agencies to contact for assistance. Provide adequate Holdalls to each person with pillows & sheets when possible. Provide separate areas or tents for each family. Activate operations centres for 24 hrs. Managed by the Police and Grama Sevaka. Whenever possible a study Room for students. Receipt books and registers to acknowledge all donations. Appoint committees consist of Head of the centre, Police, Grama Sevaka, Important few Civilians in the area to meet daily and monitor operations of the Centre and take suitable action when necessary. Provide Petty Cash imprest through the Divisional Secretary. Common standing order! Circular must be issued to all centres re- its management.
ROLE OF THE DIVISIONAL SECRETARY
Each office must have a generator in case of electricity failure. D.S. Offices of all affected areas must have additional building with space for storage of goods such as cooking utensils, Holdalls, Tents etc., with a room for the Divisional Secretary to rest who should be on 24 hrs duty. Should prepare a standing order/Circular giving Divisional Secretaries more powers in spending, hiring etc., during disaster period. Have detailed lists of all people with addresses their skills, contact nos, under each refugee Centre under each Divisional Secretary. Identify the requirement of staff to each Centre and how their services can be obtained. Identify the requirements of vehicles, logistics etc., and how and from where they can be obtained or hired. All emergency and contacts where services can be obtained. Activate the operation Room for 24 hrs. Have a Radio communication set installed permanently. Prepare common standing orders, circulars re-the responsibilities of Divisional Secretaries and Grama Sevakas during disaster period. Have maps of affected areas indicating the refugee centres, place of floods, Landslides etc., with the number of female, males to be given shelters. Appoint officials to accept donations manage stores, distributions and maintaining records and issuing receipts for all donations. Provide Petty cash to each centre with a standing order to manage. Prepare lists of requirements to each centre including repair work and how and from where such facilities can be obtained. Have a list of stand by Electricians, Plumbers, Civil workers, Generator Technicians etc., to obtain services during affected period on payments.
DISASTER MANAGEMENT CENTRE:
Activate the operation room 24 hrs with representatives from all government and private agencies involved in disaster management work. Have adequate telephones and radio communication sets of Police, 3 forces etc., operated by those officers. Maintain all records of affected areas including people and properties. Appoint a Media officer with staff. Arrange daily discussions. Prepare a standing order/circular as to how the Management Centre should be operated. Appoint staff to obtain foreign donations, store and issue through the relevant officials. Rent or purchase .a large stores to store all foreign donations and other purchased items which can be used during a disaster. Prepare a detailed work plan re-prevention of disasters in consultation of professionals and ensure implementation. Appoint a team of Architects, structural engineers, Civil Engineers etc., to plan out to build houses on concrete coloums with costs and provide free professional services to public and when possible arrange bank loans and provide financial assistance. Prepare a detailed plan re-post disaster period for implementation.
All private collecting centres collecting donations must be registered with the Disaster Management Centre in advance. A form should be issued for all who seek registration and the local police and Grama Sevaka should make their recommendation before accepting them as collecting centres.
All such collecting centres should be made accountable for all collected donations and the manner the distributions done.
A Circular must be issued re-the management of such centres and the records to be maintained. Collecting centres once registered should be issued with a registration number and a certificate.
A house damaged in the aftermath of the Meethotamulla collapse
RESPONSIBILITY OF POLICE and military
Police at station, Division, Range and Police Head Quarters level must activate operational rooms. Sufficient Boats with life Jackets should be issued to all Police stations in affected areas since they will have difficulty in road transportations. All OIC stations should ensure protecting the lives of affected people and their property. Police personnel also should be deployed to provide security to all refugee centres and also to manage the operation room of such centres with a police radio communication set.
Officers of Armed Forces have carried out their duties very satisfactory in the past and will continue the good work on a more planned manner. However, the Army must be issued with adequate boats and life jackets to carry out their duties more effectively.
RESPONSIBILITY OF MEDICAL STAFF
A doctor and at least 2 nurses with adequate medical equipment’s and drugs should be made available at all refugee camps during activated period. Arrangements must be made to have the services of an Ambulance in a short period to all centres. All government hospitals must have adequate staff, equipment, drugs etc.
I have given a very brief report above and recommend to appoint a team of Professionals and Administrators for study and prepare a detailed report indication and guidelines, instructions and logistical and human resources requirements etc., under each responsible person, organization, institution and refugee centres.
This subject should be treated as urgent and important in view of all damages caused to human lives and private and government properties.