Local lore is that August is Kenya's cursed month due to the inexplicably high number of human and natural disasters that plague the country. Kenya takes global centre stage to come up with ways to eliminate the rising threat of terrorism to global peace and security. With human-induced climate change and global warming taking centre stage in the remainder of the century, this direct threat to modern civilization heralds the evolution of organised terror activities, which target social centres particularly shopping malls, hotels, places of worship, all being popular gathering points for urban dwellers. This draws the need for concentrated efforts to consolidate states on a single front to combat global terror. However, such efforts fail in one significant area, preparing the public in anti-terror campaigns.
History of Modern Civil Defence
As threats against humanity evolve beyond human-induced terrorism evolves beyond traditional hotspots in war-torn regions to bustling metropolises in both developing and developed states, history could serve as a starting point to tackling this threat. During the Cold War, the nuclear powers implemented programs aimed at maintaining civility in the event of nuclear war. The United States of America and Great Britain made elaborate plans to ensure continuity of governments as well as disaster containment plans. However, a decade into the 21st Century, terrorism has taken over as the single greatest threat to global security thus bringing back into focus, the need for a national civil defence plan. The United States of America implemented the Homeland Security Act in 2002 after the September 2001 attacks, which that established a cabinet post tasked with the government’s response to an array of scenarios including natural disasters and acts of terrorism. In Africa, Nigeria took the lead in establishing a Civil Defence Corps in 1980 which supplements the work of the national police service in maintaining law and order.
Civil Defence in International Humanitarian Law
The International Committee of the Red Cross, in a advisory opinion on the role of civil defence in International Humanitarian Law, described it as precautions made for the protection of civilian populations against loss, damage and suffering in the event of warfare and natural disasters. Civil defence is a key pillar in international humanitarian law with the following delineated roles to civilian populations: warning, evacuation, management of shelters and power blackout measures, rescue, medical services – including first aid – and religious assistance, fire-fighting, detection and marking of danger areas, decontamination and similar protective measures, provision of emergency accommodation and supplies, emergency assistance in the restoration and maintenance of order in distressed areas and complementary activities needed.
Lessons From COVID-19 and Natural Disasters in Kenya
The civilian population of Kenya is therefore vulnerable to catastrophes and often have to await rescue by various arms of the disciplined services. Overreliance on an already overburdened police service and the Kenya Red Cross Society pokes holes into the preparedness of the population for national emergencies. The country needs a central framework which not only oversees the disaster preparedness of the government, but also co-ordinates civilian training and response in the face of such events. First Aid training should be paramount in such a framework. Governmental efforts such as the lauded Nyumba Kumi initiative could serve as a launchpad for such efforts. All disaster response services particularly the Fire Brigade and ambulance services and all healthcare units are core in such planning. Mobile service providers are critical in such a plan to facilitate adequate communication links especially in times of crises.