The UN Global Programme for the Integration of Public Administration and the Science of Disasters

Established in January 1996 by the United Nations Secretariet and directed by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the UN Global Programme for the Integration of Public Administration and the Science of Disasters (UNGP-IPASD) aims at strengthening the capacity of communities to assess and mitigate risk of natural disasters through reinforcing public administration systems that provide the backbone for community preparedness and disaster mitigation. Both anticipation and management aspects are fully integrated in order to take advantage of scientific information on disasters, and public administration capacity to respond to such information with measured, effective, mitigation strategies. 

The Global Programme initially emphasizes earthquakes about which, compared to storms, hurricanes, typhoons, and some floods, is relatively more difficult to establish early warning information. Although early warning is often the purview of the scientific community, the Global Programme seeks to encourage communication between scientists and administrators, these administrators and their communities, and to empower these communities so that they can assess risk, monitor locally and provide appropriate warnings.

Natural disasters threaten development processes. Some countries are particularly disaster prone, and development results have been affected by the frequent incidence of disasters. For example, the Philippines had, in a two-year period, a dramatic volcanic eruption, a devastating earthquake and frequent typhoons. Although natural disasters threaten all people, adverse consequences fall disproportionately on vulnerable populations, mainly those in poverty, most often women, children and the elderly, who by in large, have difficulty avoiding unsafe locations and rebuilding after disasters.

Local public administrators who work for and with the people every day, are in the key institutional position to announce disaster warnings based on examining local monitoring data in light of nationally or internationally generated alerts and to mobilize communities for self-protection.

The Global Programme seeks to implement some of the key recommendations from the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR), and UNDESA is working closely with the IDNDR Secretariat to bring attention to the importance of strengthening government administration for natural disaster reduction.

Noting the emergence of many techniques and methodologies for early warning and community preparation for disasters, as well as rapid advances in information sharing technology, the Global Programme seeks to facilitate exchange of information, data and experiences through not only technical meetings and publications, but also on-line, electronic and computerized interactive information sharing technologies.

By integrating applied natural sciences and public administration, the capacity of local communities to assess and mitigate their immediate risk from natural disasters, particularly earthquakes, can be significantly strengthened.. Although natural events are often global in scope, it is said that "all disasters are local". By integrating international and local networks of scientists and administrators, a global monitoring network for earthquakes can be linked to the most operational level; that is, any community linked to the Internet.

The Global Programme intends to promote monitoring by students in primary and secondary schools, as well as in community development groups. This participation is expected to lead not only to disaster reduction but also to empowerment of community residents to take responsibility for the well-being of their community. As in the case of Qinglong County in China, the experience of successful mitigation of loss of life from a large earthquake disaster results in community pride and self-confidence. 

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