In­sti­tute pre­pares China for fu­ture nat­u­ral dis­as­ters

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By ZHENG JINRAN zhengjin­ran@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Sichuan prov­ince, which was hit by a dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake on May 12, 2008, is home to China’s first in­sti­tute for dis­as­ter man­age­ment — aim­ing to im­prove sci­en­tific un­der­stand­ing and the coun­try’s re­con­struc­tion ca­pac­ity in the event of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters.

TheWenchuan earth­quake, as it is known, killed more than 69,000 peo­ple and in­jured hun­dreds of thou­sands more.

By the fol­low­ing month, work to de­velop the In­sti­tute for Disas­terMan­age­ment and Re­con­struc­tion had be­gun, with a fo­cus on dis­as­ter pre­ven­tion, mit­i­ga­tion and re­con­struc­tion as well as med­i­cal treat­ment, build­ing de­sign and dis­as­ter man­age­ment sci­ence.

The in­sti­tute is a joint pro­gram be­tween Sichuan Univer­sity and the Hong Kong Polytech­nicUniver­sity, and as of June, it had pro­vided 134 grad­u­ates with pro­fes­sional skills and knowl­edge on dis­as­ter-re­lated med­i­cal treat­ment.

It has also de­vel­oped a new model of post-dis­as­ter re­con­struc­tion, which was put into ac­tion in Sichuan’s Ya'an city af­ter a sec­ond ma­jor earth­quake hit the prov­ince on April 20, 2013.

Gu Lin­sheng, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the in­sti­tute, said this model was de­vel­oped based on the ex­pe­ri­ences of res­cuers in­volved in the Wenchuan earth­quake as well as years of re­search into other nat­u­ral dis­as­ters in­China and world­wide.

Wenchuan county wit­nessed rapid re­con­struc­tion ef­forts in the wake of the 2008 earth­quake, with tem­po­rary lodg­ings to house 12 mil­lion vic­tims built in the first 100 days af­ter the dis­as­ter.

“Based on the ex­pe­ri­ences of Sichuan, and con­sid­er­ing fu­ture dis­as­ter pre­ven­tion and re­con­struc­tion, we needed to de­velop a new model to al­le­vi­ate the bur­den on the cen­tral gov­ern­ment and lay a solid foun­da­tion for lo­cal gov­ern­ment dis­as­ter man­age­ment,” Gu said in an in­ter­view with Xin­hua News Agency.

The new model fo­cuses on giv­ing greater re­spon­si­bil­ity to lo­cal gov­ern­ments in dis­as­ter-hit Sichuan Univer­sity in May. said.

“This shift of re­spon­si­bil­ity from the cen­tral gov­ern­ment to the lo­cal level can strengthen the re­gion’s ca­pac­ity to cope with dis­as­ters, and gives suf­fi­cient time and space for the re­gions to de­cide their re­gions, the in­sti­tute own pri­or­i­ties and sched­ules,” Gu said.

It also opened up more chan­nels for tar­geted do­na­tions, ac­cord­ing to the in­sti­tute, which es­ti­mates that around 400 mil­lion yuan ($60 mil­lion) from so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions has been guided to sup­port tar­geted projects in Ya’an city, like schools and com­mu­nity build­ings, over the past three years.

Work to im­prove the model is on­go­ing and in­cludes in­ter­na­tional ex­changes with coun­tries such as Ja­pan, the in­sti­tute added.

ZHAO XINGLEI / FOR CHINA DAILY

A stu­dent learns first aid skills dur­ing an in­ter­na­tional fo­rum about post-dis­as­ter re­con­struc­tion at

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