Being located in one of the most prone regions to natural disasters in the world, Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan and the Philippines cannot avoid exposure to a variety of disasters. By lowering production capacities and trade of goods and services, and worsening the balance of payments and government budgets, natural disasters pose threats to development goals all over the world.
The lack of preparedness for disasters, emergency plans on evacuation and ability to construct early warning systems are the biggest challenges that worsen the whole infrastructure system in the region. Turkey is also vulnerable to natural disasters such as earthquakes, sharing the similarity with Japan. In this regard, technical cooperation in the field of disaster management between Turkey and these countries is particularly important.
Towards a Solution
The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) created a Third Country Training Programme in the field of "Disaster Risk Management and the Development of Disaster-Resistant Societies" covering topics of disaster risk management and disaster mitigation, sustainable development and the development of resilient cities, urban planning, post-disaster recovery, flood risk management, and field assessments. One training program per year is organized since 2017, amounting to a total of three trainings, for Asian countries that frequently face disasters. Turkish and Japanese know-how on seismic risk assessment, EQ monitoring data processing, disaster drills training, post-EQ initial situation assessment, heritage preservation and governing a disaster coordination center were also landmarks of the project..
METU Disaster Management Implementation and Research Center hosted the third of the two-week training program in which 12 experts and academics from Bangladesh, the Philippines, Myanmar, and Pakistan received theoretical and field-oriented training..
The training was conducted in an interactive manner, with a mixture of lecture presentations, exercises and field trips. Academicians from various departments working with the Disaster Management Implementation and Research Centre at the Middle East Technical University (METU DMC) as well as supporting universities and NGOs participated during all training periods. While the lectures were delivered at METU campus in Ankara mainly, there were several field trips to Kaynaşlı, Düzce and to Bursa, to observe the Disaster Training Center, Bursa AFAD and İnegol Landslide Area, as well as Istanbul, for visiting a major coordination center in Hasdal AFAD and an earthquake retrofitting sites (e.g. Göztepe Hospital in 2017, 2019, Munis Faik Middle School in 2018 and an earthquake reconstruction site of Kadıköy Atatürk High School in 2019)..
In addition to that, they were able to build an academic network in this field. It is expected that the action plans, which they made together during the program in Turkey will be implemented in their home countries, and contribute to the development of each participating country..
Natural disasters pose a threat and will always have negative effects on social structures and the environment by hampering economic growth, and efforts towards poverty reduction and income distribution. While preventing the occurrence of natural disasters is nearly impossible, there is a possibility to prevent or at least mitigate damage arising from them, both in terms of the number of human casualties and economic impacts. The initial aim of being prepared for these disasters requires knowledge sharing and technical assistance to vulnerable countries, hence the training programme will always be needed and replicable..