International group calls for the government's renewed commitment for improved disaster risk reduction program
With the number of disasters that have hit the country over the past years--devastating huge infrastructures and claiming countless human lives-- there is a need for the government to reassess its disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation measures and improve its disaster response system/mechanism.
This call was made by theUnited Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) through Senator Loren Legarda, UNISDRRegional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific during the launch of the Global Assessment Report (GAR) on Disaster Risk Reduction held on July 26 at the Philippine Senate in Pasay City .
With the key findings of GAR showing the trend of disaster risk increasing rapidly over the years, the Philippines, together with other disaster-prone and vulnerable countries, has to "strengthen its disaster management as well as climate change adaptation programs in order for the country to achieve its development goals", Legarda said.
Presenting the findings of the report, coordinating lead author of GAR 2011 Andrew Maskrey said that in 21 countries, facilities destroyed have increased ten times with more public development projects like school buildings, health facilities, roads, water and sanitation systems seeing destruction brought about by disasters and the lack of effective disaster risk reduction programs by countries especially the low-income ones.
Maskrey also said that while the number of natural disasters has not changed over the years, the losses caused by these disasters have increased in such high levels that have affected economies worldwide.
"The Philippines ranked fifth in terms of number of people exposed to risk, eighth in disaster incidence and human impact, and tenth in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) or economy at risk come disasters/calamities," Maskrey added, citing a 2009 UN report.
By GDP, Maskrey explained that in disasters, the "economic aspect" is the more pressing concern as it is "affected by urban systems loss (like electricity, transportation, communication, banking, technology, connectivity) that could lead to the loss of economic assets as well as public infrastructures."
Thus, the call by Legarda, together with the UNISDR, to reduce vulnerability, come up with better planning for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, and reform risk governance was made in front of members of Congress, local government and civil society leaders, and members of media during the launch.
The GAR entitled Revealing Risk, Redefining Development is a biennial global assessment of disaster risk reduction and a comprehensive review and analysis of the natural hazards affecting humanity.
The GAR 2011 reviews how governments, including the Philippines and 129 others, are scaling up disaster risk management by adapting development instruments, such as national planning, public investment systems, and social protection mechanisms. The target is to have reduced disaster-caused losses by 2015.