GENEVA, 19 December 2012 - Asia suffers from more disasters than any place on earth. While the number of people killed by disasters in the region have decreased in 2012, the economic impact remains a major cause of concern. The 'Inside Story', an Aljazeera English program, looked at the economic implications of disasters and what can be done to better protect people from these recurrent disasters.
To help shine a spotlight on the issue, 'Inside Story' presenter James Bays was joined by Margareta Wahlström, UNISDR chief and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Manu Gupta, the chair of the Asia Disaster Reduction and Response Network; and Helen Hodge, an associate director at the risk analysis company, Maplecroft.
Prior to the panel discussion, the program also featured Jerry Velasquez, Head of the UNISDR's Asia-Pacific Regional Office, who spoke about the human impact of disasters: "All of these disasters in the past few years, a large proportion of the losses, are actually borne by regular people - farmers, teachers, policemen. And, most of them get no support."
Velasquez also noted at last week's announcement of the 2012 disaster trends for Asia by UNISDR and the Louvain University Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) that, "The relative reduction in the number of disasters so far this year in the region is not a cause for complacency. We must still contend with the fact that risk is growing faster than wealth is being created. Exposure is on the rise and flooding represents a serious challenge to Asian cities as we have seen earlier this year in Beijing and Manila where these two cities were partly flooded in a couple of hours.
"Flood risk must be addressed in a more systematic manner and integrated in all urban and development management plans if we want to ensure sustainable economic growth and better protect people and their assets as extreme weather events will be more frequent and severe in the future."