Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Half mln killed in Asia-Pacific disasters in 2005-2014 (UN)

From 2005 to 2014, the Asia-Pacific region had 1,625 reported disaster events, leaving approximately 500,000 people dead, a United Nations report said on Tuesday.

These disasters, accounting for over 40 percent of the global total, also affected around 1.4 billion people, constituting 80 percent of those affected globally, said a report launched by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Over this period, Asia and the Pacific, the most disaster prone region in the world, incurred economic damage of 523 billion US dollars, accounting for 45 percent of the global total, showed the 2015 Asia-Pacific Disaster Report-Disasters without Borders: Regional Resilience for Sustainable Development.

"Even these figures are probably underestimates, since there is no standardized methodology for gathering disaster statistics, and many disasters go unreported," it stressed.

Despite some already-made progress, Asia-Pacific countries still have much to do to reduce disaster risks and must remain vigilant since rapid economic growth, rising populations, and burgeoning cities are exacerbating existing risks and creating new ones, it said.

"It is a grave concern that disasters are becoming more frequent, much larger and more intense. As the report highlights, the majority of the disasters in our region are cross-border in nature," UN Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Dr. Shamshad Akhtar said at the report launch, citing Monday's earthquake that affected Afghanistan, Pakistan, as well as parts of India.

"Only by coming together in the spirit of cooperation can the Asia-Pacific region hope to become truly disaster resilient," she added.

The report presents a framework for integrating disaster risk reduction into sustainable development plans, policies, sectoral programs and budgets, noting that just as every sector can be affected by earthquakes, floods or cyclones, it is essential that every sector considers how to make its activities disaster resilient.

"A fundamental rethink is needed as many governments still follow a short-sighted approach to disasters, with the focus on response, and paying less attention to adaptation, mitigation and preparedness," said Dr. Akhtar.

The report, in particular, stressed the importance of building resilience to drought, which is one of the region's most devastating natural disasters but is often forgotten.

Since 1970, drought has affected more than 1.6 billion people across Asia and the Pacific and cost an estimated 53 billion US dollars in damage, the report said, suggesting measures such as long-term risk management, maintaining ecosystems, using science and technology, and agricultural insurance.

  Xinhua - globaltimes.cn

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