BANGKOK, 21 October 2011
– The floods which have affected eight million people across South East Asia, and which now threaten Bangkok, have underlined shortcomings in disaster risk reduction with many children drowning because they cannot swim, and thousands of workers now unemployed because of poorly located manufacturing plants, the Head of the UN’s Bangkok Office for Disaster Reduction, UNISDR, Jerry Velasquez said today.
He continued: “We are particularly concerned to learn about the high numbers of children dying in these floods which was a concern raised by children themselves when over 600 were interviewed for the new Children’s Charter on Disaster Risk Reduction which was the focus of International Disaster Reduction Day on October 13.”
Over 200 children are reported to have died in Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand out of an estimated total of 745 flood-related deaths. And more than 3000 schools have also been affected in Thailand alone which will have long term consequences on the education of thousands of children.
“UNISDR is also urging the governments of the affected countries to open discussions with the private sector on what adjustments need to be made in their land use to locate their factories in disaster proof areas to better protect their workers and prevent them to build their home in unsafe areas. The private sector has a responsibility in reducing disaster risks when these events are now so predictable in the light of what we know about the impact of climate change on the frequency and intensity of these types of disasters.”
Across the region the well-being of millions will be drastically affected by loss of livelihoods as manufacturing plants are forced to shut and agriculture struggle to recover.
“These floods map exactly onto models for a one-in-a-hundred-years event, and things could get worse in the future. If we know where the floods are going to happen and how high they are going to be, then we should be better prepared,” said Velasquez.