As world population increases, disasters, both natural and man-made, show a correspondingly greater toll of human lives. Existing rescue services are inadequate with regard to major disasters. They are unable to centralize and secure the relevant expertise and to control all rescue operations involving the movement of men, materials and messages within the disaster area. Immediately after the disaster strikes, the problem of the logistic mobilization of resources and coordination of rescue, first aid and relief work emerges as a first priority. Associated with this activity may be the prevention of secondary effects such as flood, fire or explosion which are also liable to trap and kill people. Lack of coordination in relief operations has a detrimental effect on longer term reconstruction. Misdirected relief operations may also deter the less skilled yet able-bodied from participating in reconstruction. Unless there is adequate planning in the situating of relief stores, camps and emergency housing, they may be placed in areas essential for early reconstruction or in areas liable to flooding or difficult to service with water and sewage disposal.
Logistics often present the most serious obstacle to quick assistance. Many developing countries have poor land communication to isolated areas and lack the resources to hold sufficient vehicles and aircraft in readiness for emergency use. International assistance is often hampered by lack of reliable and rapid assessment of needs, resulting in inappropriate or obsolete relief supplies. The use of foreign assistance may be very seriously delayed or rendered impossible by political sensitivity to over-flying and landing arrangements for military aircraft or providing visas for the movement of foreigners within the frontiers of a State.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.