USAID suggests that, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”
The United States Aid (USAID) organization has identified October 13th as the International Day for Disaster Reduction and suggests that “now is the time to recommit to making smart investments that save lives, property, and money”.
The statement of Benjamin Franklin that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is particularly direct when applied to the potential financial impact of disasters. According to the World Bank and U.S. Geological Survey, one dollar spent on risk reduction can save seven dollars in relief and repair costs. A 7 to 1 return is a very good investment and finding strong, sustainable solutions to risk reduction must be the goal of any international aid agency.
In reviewing the history of USAID along with America’s past efforts to reduce the impact of disaster, we must look at the agencies origins. We began to formulate an international aid policy following the disastrous effects of a second world war. Following WW2 the goals of the United States were to rebuild a war-devastated region, remove trade barriers, modernize industry, and make Europe prosperous again. We called that effort the Marshall Plan.
Other formative programs followed the same war, including initiatives where the US shared know-how in various fields, especially agriculture, industry and health. US officials helped “third world” nations on a development path that raised their standard of living so that they could rebuild as stronger economies. The foundation of the USAID is built upon the idea that sharing financial resources and sharing know-how are the best tools to reduce the impact of disasters upon the world.
In January 1949 President Truman stated: “For the first time in history, humanity possesses the knowledge and skill to relieve suffering of these people. The United States is preeminent among nations in the development of industrial and scientific techniques. The material resources which we can afford to use for assistance of other people are limited. But our imponderable resources in technical knowledge are constantly growing and are inexhaustible”
It seems that our investments in know-how and technology applied in rebuilding Europe have provided lower loses of lives, property, and money during any number of past disasters. Other countries have used our leadership to reduce their risks and save billions as well.
We suggest that sharing our knowledge and technology of the concrete supply systems will yield less loss of life, property and money in many of the developing countries. Investing in appropriately scaled projects to strengthen the foundation of the construction industry will yield a higher return on investment than almost any other portion of a country’s infrastructure.
Mr. Franklin and President Truman would agree that an ounce of quality concrete construction is better than a million metric tons of rubble any day…