Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean
Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Kids and Youth
river and the settler
A foolhardy man was
building his house too near a river.
your home in my bed, whispered the river. Remember that some
years the clouds become angry and it rains harder, and the banks you see
now are now wide enough for all the water that falls on my basin. Your
house might be flooded!
But the man, who was
sawing and hammering, paid no attention.
Also, if on
the mountains where I was born men have felled the forests, the rainwater
will run madly downhill, washing away the soil and pouring mud and trees
into my course that I will be forced to carry down to the sea. Stop hammering
and use your head!
The river kept whispering
until the man finally paid attention and said, Hush! Dont
you see that other houses have been built next to you even higher upstream
and nothing has ever happened to them?
I am warning
you, this has happened before. Dont make the same mistakes others
But the man ignored
the rivers advice.
One year, the rains
were the worst in living memory, and the river overflowed its banks, as
it had done for thousands of years whenever this happened. The strong
current grew and grew like a voracious tongue lapping up trees and rocks
and everything else in its path, wrecking many houses and flinging them
downstream. Nothing could stop it. The rubbish that people had been lazily
throwing into the river only made matters worse. Now the river did not
whisper; it roared, angry at the rubbish and the foolishness of those
who had not heeded its warning.
river! cried the frightened villagers while trying to rescue at
least a few of their soggy, muddy possessions. Cant you see
we are losing everything we have worked for so hard over many years?
I warned you
in time, the river roared. It is the force of gravity that
forces me to take this water down to the sea as quickly as it will go.
That is the way of Nature, and no one can go against it, not even me.
This is the punishment she metes on anyone who disobeys her. Will you
Most of the people
in the village, sensibly, had built their houses on higher ground. As
on previous occasions, they rushed downhill to help their more imprudent
After the flood subsided, the villagers got together and agreed to use the land more wisely by building in safe places, protecting the river, and not using it as a rubbish bin.