Don't let such a crisis goes to waste!

When I read the piece of article from CNN concerning COVID-19 (see here), I think China is very much concerned on how other countries' accusations (Chinese virus, Covid-19 data misleads, China-WHO cover ups, etc) will play out in the future or post-Covid-19 (if ever). I saw myself how China learned from crisis in term of flood management. I believe they also do the same in term of infectious diseases. They are applying no-regret investment principles unlike other countries. This is why I think China is at a different level compared to other countries in term of emergency preparedness (and of course, having a centralized system in place also really helps).

Now, the question is: have we really learned from our past crisis? There's a saying that we must not let such a crisis goes to waste. We must take the lessons learned and integrate them into our planning (and budgeting). Just because this is an "every-100-years-disaster" does not mean we just sit around and wait for that next crisis to happen. Private sector is usually good in applying the lessons learned. In Thailand, due to the mega flood in 2011, the private sector, with the support from JICA developed a project called business continuity management. The flood (and the unpreparedness of the government's emergency response system) caused the business to stop that time and suffered economic lost in a staggering amount. The business continuity management project aimed to increase the preparedness of private sector to anticipate such disasters in the future to be able to minimize the lost of lives and economy.

Now, back again to the point of learning our lessons, do we really have a habbit to apply our lessons learned or we just let them go by? In Indonesia we have a term "masalah klasik (classic problems)". This shows that we do not learn and choose to let the problems become classic problems with no solutions. We are expected to live with our problems. What?! Living with problems is not how we should be living! For every problem we need to seek out and learn how to solve it. When the Japanese built its first bullet train (Shinkansen), they encountered 110 ( so they say) problems. They solved the problems one by one until the project successfully completed. What about us? There is an annecdote that in our country, if the project has more then 10 problems, we should look for another project to do. This is absurd and I hope it is not right. If it is right, then we need to change. NOW!

Remember, we get better not by chance, but by change. However, the problem is not only related to willingness to change, the problem is also because we seemed to always think that we have time. This Covid-19 shows us that we don't have time. So, I say this again and again: ONE DAY or DAY ONE, that is your choice. Learn and apply.


Fany Wedahuditama
Regional Coordinator
Global Water Partnership Southeast Asia (GWP-SEA)