Colloquium: Hazards to Disasters the Role of Electronic Communication LIVE

Posted on April 29, 2005  /  0 Comments

“Hazards to Disasters the role of Electronic Communication,” by Rohan Samarajiva and Asantha Sirimanne is currently in session (April 29, 5.30PM).

Rohan has circulated a paper titled Mobilizing information and communications technologies for effective supply of disaster warnings: Lessons from the 2004 tsunami. The paper is the basis for the discussion. Asantha will elaborate on the media aspects that flow out of the paper.

The current colloquium discussion are being blogged in real-time. Please refresh this page every few minutes to see the changes. Please post questions and comments you may have on the paper that was circulated for the discussions.

Rohan–lets talk about my paper. Titled Mobilizing information and communications technologies for effective supply of disaster warnings. I will basically follow the structure of the paper in my presentation. How human beings get hazard warnings to decison makers. The most controversial part is the last section on market failure and government failure in the area of hazard detection and warning.

Public good not supplied by market is difficult for even the govt to provide. This is the market failure aspect. Govt failure is that although it is its responsibilityto provide hazard warning it fails to do so. Primarily because of poor governance in many developing countries. But not all govt fail. Clinton put effort to get a good disaster management system in place even though the payoff may not have been during his tenure. Whereas politicians in our part of our world think only short term and disaster management system doesnt have short term political benefits.

Thailand just conducted an elaborate evacuation drill today. The Thai govt is more serious than ours is to an extent. The guy who has played a catalyst role in Thailand is Smith Dharmsoroja, who was fired from his job [he was head of the Met dept] because he asked the Thai govt to prepare for a possible Tsunami. Now he heads the Tsunami related activities under the Prime Minister’s office. Unfortunately in Sri Lanka we dont have such a person or the political will to appoint someone who can be effective.

Anthony Downs say that all politicians are primarily driven by the need to get (re)elected, similar to the “rational economic maximing individual.” If you look at it from state theory–a “renteer state” or “predatory state” in conditions of poor governance, politicians want the money NOW before the next election, it is just not about getting re-elected. In such a circumstance creating a disaster management system that works and may not have short-term benefits for politicians is difficult.

Malathy: Market failure–regulation, what happens when you have government failure?

Rohan: Civil society groups are the alternative.

Asantha:there is a media conference in taipei. in the 2nd plenary Rohan and Asantha will be presenting.

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