Today I am off to the Global Youth Consultation (GYC) for the World Humanitarian Summit in Doha. It’s quite the mouthful, but something that I am very proud to be saying.
On the 11th of March 2011, a magnitude nine earthquake hit Japan. Many prefectures around the North and East were badly affected. Japan was shaken physically, economically and emotionally.
However, the disaster didn’t stop there. 30 minutes after the earthquake, a tsunami happened. Eight big waves with a height of 8.5 metres crashed into East Japan. Approximately, 11,280 people died or were missing.
Four years after, I visited the town of Yuriage – a coastal town heavily devastated by the tsunami.
Prior to attending the UN Small Island Developing States conference in Samoa, I had not put much thought into what happens to animals in disasters. Like many of us in New Zealand, I keep cat food in my emergency survival kit, but had never considered the effects of disasters on animals other than the family pet. However, in vulnerable communities disasters can cause widespread loss of animals, which then devastates the communities and their livelihoods.
My interest in disaster management stems from a board game we had when I was a child. The Red Cross Survival Kit game saw players collecting survival kit items as they went around the board; a torch, radio, batteries, tinned food and so on. My sister and I played this game over and over with various family members and babysitters. The Survival Kit game sparked a passion for disaster preparedness that has continued until today.