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Agri-food impacts of Fukushima nuclear accident - lessons learned 10 years after disaster

Bachev, Hrabrin (2021): Agri-food impacts of Fukushima nuclear accident - lessons learned 10 years after disaster.

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On March 11, 2011, the strongest ever recorded in Japan earthquake occurred which triggered a powerful tsunami and caused a nuclear accident in Fukushima nuclear plant. The latter was a “manmade” disaster having immense impacts on people’s life, health, and property, infrastructure, supply chains, economy, policies, natural and institutional environment, etc. This paper presents work in progress and assesses preparedness for and agri-food impacts of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, identifies challenges in post-disaster recovery, and withdraws lessons for improving disaster risk management. Japan was not well prepared for such a huge disaster while the agri-food sector and consumption have been among the worst-hit areas. The triple disaster was a rare but high-impact event, therefore, it is necessary to “prepare for the unexpected”. Risk assessment is to include diverse hazards and multiple effects of a likely disaster, it is to be discussed with all stakeholders, and measures taken to educate and train all for complex disasters. It is necessary to modernize property rights, regulations, safety standards, and norms, enhance the capability of responsible public authorities and improve coordination between diverse actors. It is important to set up mechanisms for effective public resource allocation and reduction of agents’ costs. Different elements of the agri-food chain have dissimilar capabilities requiring differential public support. There is a strong “regional” interdependency of agrarian, food, and rural assets (and damages), and it is important to properly locate risk and take prevention and recovery measures. Disaster response demonstrated the important role of small-scale farms and food organizations, and the high efficiency of private, market, and collective governance. Before, during, and after a disaster, all available information from all sources is to be immediately publicized in understandable form through all possible means. Disaster provides an opportunity to discuss, introduce and implement fundamental changes in agricultural, economic, regional, energy, disaster management, etc. policies. It is important to learn from past experiences, prepare for multiple disasters, and make sure that “lessons learned” are not forgotten.

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