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Philippines poor bear brunt of disasters

It is the poor and people engaged in family-based and informal sector enterprises who will bear the brunt of typhoon Haiyan. As initial estimates of economic losses from the disaster are put at up to $US 15 billion, or 5 per cent of the Philippines’ annual GDP, the Head of Advocacy and Outreach of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Mr Jerry Velasquez, said: “It is a common theme across Asia that marginal farmers, fishermen, small-scale entrepreneurs and poor urban households shoulder the greatest losses from disasters.”
14 Nov 2013 News briefs

Senator urges ‘don’t rebuild risks again’

As the Philippines embarks on a massive recovery effort in the wake of super typhoon Haiyan, one of the country’s leading senators said it is vital that “we do not rebuild the risks again”. Senator Loren Legarda lent her full support to ongoing efforts in search and rescue and emergency relief but also emphasized the need for a longer term vision of reconstruction that will reduce the vulnerability and exposure of communities to hazards. “Affected citizens immediately need food, water, clothing, shelter and medicines but we must now also start addressing the need to rehabilitate affected communities,” said Sen. Legarda, who is Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change. “It will not be enough to build people’s lives and communities to where they were before the disaster; we need to rebuild communities with the confidence that we are not rebuilding the risks again.
13 Nov 2013 News briefs

Super Typhoon Haiyan "a turning point" for disaster risk management

The Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, today extended her condolences to the Philippines government and people on the heavy loss of life and extensive damage to critical infrastructure, homes and workplaces caused by the devastating Category 5 Cyclone Haiyan or Yolanda as it is known in the Philippines.
12 Nov 2013 Press release

Philippines plea: 'stop this climate madness'

The Philippines’ lead negotiator at the UN Climate Change Convention, whose home town was devastated by super typhoon Haiyan, told today’s conference opening that “disasters are never natural”. “We must stop calling events like these as natural disasters,” Mr Yeb Sano said in his address to the Convention's 19th Conference of the Parties in Warsaw. “It is not natural when people continue to struggle to eradicate poverty and pursue development and get battered by the onslaught of a monster storm. “Disasters are never natural. They are the intersection of factors other than physical. They are the accumulation of the constant breach of economic, social and environmental thresholds.
11 Nov 2013 News briefs

Disability survey: youngster calls for inclusive future

– Filled with the desire to share his story, a young wheelchair user, together with his three classmates, shared his experience and vision for a more inclusive and safer community for everyone. “Supporting each other is very important, as I always experienced in my school. I wish that such support will emanate not just in a school, but also throughout a community,” said Mr. Takuro Suzuki who is a third year in a junior high school. “This would contribute to building an inclusive community where everyone, including persons with disability and elderly, feels comfortable to live safely.”
11 Nov 2013 News briefs

Biggest storm of 2013 set to hit Philippines

The Philippines’ comprehensive disaster risk management strategy has swung into action as the country braces itself for the arrival tomorrow of the planet’s strongest storm this year As super typhoon Haiyan bears down on the Philippines, the country’s President, Mr. Benigno Aquino, has directed maximum efforts to achieve the government’s zero casualty goal, which lies at the heart of the country’s disaster planning. A series of risk management and preparedness measures have clicked into action across regions and provinces that potentially lie in the typhoon’s path, including the planned evacuation of almost two million.
7 Nov 2013 News briefs

UN Day events focus on disaster risk

Brussels - Two mayors working hard to make their cities safer and more resilient took advantage of the recent United Nations Day to showcase the importance of reducing disaster risk.
6 Nov 2013 News briefs

Tsunami city ‘starts from zero’

The Mayor of a Japanese city devastated by the March 2011 tsunami aims to make his municipality a global leader of inclusive redevelopment. Mr Futoshi Toba, the Mayor of Rikuzenkata City in Iwate prefecture, said: “We can start from zero and make sure that every citizen is integrated in the planning and reconstruction process, in particular those persons with disabilities and the elderly people who were the most exposed by the 11 March disaster.” The Mayor was speaking during the visit of Ms Margareta Wahlström, the Head of the UN office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). “Rikuzentakata has the opportunity to become a model city for the world,” the Mayor said. “Our city will have a lot to showcase on inclusive reconstruction processes that can help other cities in the world to be better prepared against disasters. We hope to share this experience to the world.”
5 Nov 2013 News briefs

Disaster-proof development

OVER the last three decades, economic losses associated with natural disasters like floods, storm surges, hurricanes, and droughts have risen in lockstep with the steady climb in global temperatures. Data from a growing number of governments suggest that, so far this century, such losses have amounted to around $2.5 trillion. And, as the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns, the worst is yet to come. This escalation will, of course, be driven largely by the increasingly frequent and intense weather events associated with higher global temperatures. But inadequate preparation will exacerbate the problem considerably.
4 Nov 2013 Statements & speeches

Seoul Declaration strengthens regional cooperation

The Heads of disaster management from China, Japan and the Republic of Korea have agreed to boost regional cooperation in the key areas of technology, information management and training programmes. The 3rd Trilateral Heads of Government Agency Meeting on Disaster Management issued a Joint Declaration emphasizing the vital role of regional cooperation to reduce disaster risk. The Vice Minister of Civil Affairs of China Gu Zhaoxi, Senior Vice-Minister of the Cabinet Office of Japan Nishimura Yasutoshi, and Administrator of National Emergency Management Agency of the Republic of Korea Nam Sang-ho announced a series of collaborative initiatives.
1 Nov 2013 News briefs

New York moves on from Sandy

Exactly a year ago, Sandy proved to be the most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, severely impacting lives and economies in seven countries. For the United States, it was the second-costliest hurricane in its history and affected the entire eastern seaboard, causing an alarming economic bill of up to $50 billion. New York City was one of the worst affected. On the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy this week, however, the city appears occupied with its future rather than its past. Heeding the signs of a changing climate, in June this year, New York City released its plan to protect the city from coastal hazards and climate change impacts called A Stronger, More Resilient New York.
1 Nov 2013 News briefs

Farmers reap fruits of risk management

Fijian papaya farmers and exporters whose businesses were devastated by a 2012 cyclone are emerging from near bankruptcy with better protected livelihoods thanks to a stronger approach to disaster risk management. Last December’s Cyclone Evan decimated crops and slashed papaya exports by almost 90 per cent prompting an industry-wide rethink on how such a catastrophic experience could be minimized in future. As a result, beleaguered farmers and exporters are changing practices to address increasing climate extremes: production is spreading away from traditional crop heartlands; budgets increasingly factor in contingency for disasters; planting is on smaller blocks and a more regular basis; seed trees are selected to suit local conditions more; and bigger stocks of seed are in store to accelerate post-disaster recovery.
31 Oct 2013 News briefs

Albania looks to regional insurance

As disasters continue to cost Albania dearly the country is cooperating on the launch of an innovative regional insurance scheme to complement a stronger domestic approach to disaster risk management. The Albanian Government has joined with Europa Re, the World Bank and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) in preparatory work to launch the South Eastern Europe and Caucasus Catastrophe Risk insurance Facility. The mechanism should reduce the country’s significant fiscal exposure to disasters as a result of various hazards and man-made risk drivers. The insurance facility aims to provide cover for earthquakes and floods. Further risk models are due to be developed for extreme weather insurance.
29 Oct 2013 News briefs

Build resilient towns to avoid loss during disasters

Today marks the anniversary of the 1999 Super Cyclone that killed almost 10,000 people and washed away decades of development in the Indian State of Odisha. In the 14 years since the disaster, Odisha denotes 29 October as National Day for Disaster Reduction. This year’s event has added resonance as it comes days after Cyclone Phailin caused widespread devastation in Odisha. In today’s edition of The Pioneer, the second oldest English newspaper in India and one of the country’s leading publications, Dr Piyush Ranjan Rout, an Advocate for UNISDR’s Making Cities Resilient Campaign and cofounder of the Local Governance Network in India, says Odisha’s disaster management has improved dramatically but still more needs to be done. An edited abstract appears below. Odisha has 480km of coastline, from Baleswar in the north to Ganjam in the south, drained by six peninsular river systems: Subarnarekha, Budhabalang, Brahmani, Baitarani, Mahanadi, Rushikulya and their tributaries.
29 Oct 2013 News briefs

Millions back 'Disability is not Inability' message

One tweet on 13 October this year, "Disability is not inability! I am supporting this year's International Day for Disaster Reduction", was the simple message that galvanized over five million people all over the world on social media around the critical issue of persons living with disabilities and disasters.
28 Oct 2013 News briefs

Drama tackles disability and disaster

The 2013 International Day for Disaster Reduction has seen remarkable efforts by artists and the creative community at large to rally for an inclusive and resilient world.
24 Oct 2013 News briefs

Cities campaign helps reduce cyclone losses

Last week's devastating Cyclone Phalin is so far estimated to have cost $700 million. This figure would be higher but for the affected Indian State of Odisha's strong record in disaster management, according to a leading urban activist based in the State capital of Bhubaneswar. Dr Piyush Ranjan Rout, who is an advocate for UNISDR's Making Cities Resilient Campaign, said the focus on accountability and reducing disaster risk had avoided an even worse outcome.
23 Oct 2013 News briefs

UNISDR training puts DRR top of the news

A global initiative to increase coverage of disaster risk reduction issues in the media culminated last week in the Pacific. ECHO and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) jointly organized the series of workshops, which has trained more than 100 journalists from 45 countries. An intensive two-day forum in Suva, Fiji, was the final event of the series, which also included trainings in Lao PDR, Myanmar, Philippines, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Switzerland.
22 Oct 2013 News briefs

Involving persons with disabilities in disaster risk management builds stronger resilience

UNISDR's Regional Office for Arab States and the Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean of the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrated today the 20130 International Day for Disaster Reduction in Cairo with a call for people living with disabilities to be empowered and engaged in disaster risk reduction as one of the groups which face higher risks when a disaster occurs.
22 Oct 2013 News briefs

Bush fire emergency in Australia

Barry O’Farrell, the Premier of New South Wales, Australia, has declared a state of emergency as weather conditions are expected to deteriorate significantly over the next few days in bush fire zones “with potential for a significant and widespread danger to life and property across the State.”
21 Oct 2013 News briefs

Philippine President orders quake investigation

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has ordered an investigation into possible violations of the building code following Tuesday's 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the Visayas region which has resulted in at least 171 deaths and widespread damage and destruction to critical infrastructure in Cebu, Bohol and Siquijor provinces.
18 Oct 2013 News briefs

Earthquake disrupts hospitals and schools

The death toll in Tuesday’s 7.2 earthquake in the Philippines has risen to 156 with 3.2 million people affected including 47,000 displaced. There have been 1,213 aftershocks recorded including 24 of which were felt. An assessment released today by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council cites damage or destruction of over 2,000 homes and damage to seaports, airports, churches, government/public buildings, hospitals and private establishments in the Provinces of Bohol, Cebu, Iloilo, Negros Occidental and Leyte. Two bodies were recovered yesterday from the inside the collapsed Congressman Castillo Memorial Hospital and city engineers declared three other hospitals in Cebu City unsafe to be occupied.
17 Oct 2013 News briefs

Disasters big threat to reducing extreme poverty says ODI

Disaster risk management should be a key component of poverty reduction efforts, focusing on protecting livelihoods as well as saving lives, a major report launched today urges. The post-2015 development goals must include targets on disasters and climate change, recognising the threat they pose to the headline goal of eradicating extreme poverty, the study from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) says. “This report provides a glimpse of what we can expect to happen to the world’s poorest people if we pursue a business as usual approach to helping them prepare for disasters,” said Mr Tom Mitchell, one of the authors of ‘The geography of poverty, disasters and climate extremes in 2030’.
16 Oct 2013 News briefs

Open data makes disaster risks visible

As UNISDR makes its final call for input to the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR15) the role of open data and risk information is emerging as an essential element of sustainable development. Preparations for the UN flagship report are gathering pace and there is growing research into the modeling of disaster risks, which can provide the type of information to help governments plan better, educate people to make informed decisions, and assist companies to ensure their investments are secure. “We are in a relationship with risk and we need to manage that relationship. In fact, we like risk in many ways but need to make sure we are risk aware. In order to do this, people need access to the best possible information,” said UNISDR’s Information Management Coordinator Craig Duncan.
15 Oct 2013 News briefs

DRR champion launches national Resilience Award

Philippines Senator Loren Legarda marked the 2013 International Day for Disaster Reduction with the launch of a national Resilience Award to inspire local leadership to build safer communities. The United Nations Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation unveiled the initiative on the same weekend in which Typhoon Nari left at least 13 people dead in the northern provinces of the Philippines; a sobering reminder of the urgent need to strengthen resilience in this highly-hazard prone country. At least 750,000 people were affected before the typhoon made its way out into the South China Sea towards China and Viet Nam.
14 Oct 2013 News briefs

Odisha braces itself for floods

The State Government of Odisha in India is now bracing itself for the possibility of additional flooding as the remains of Cyclone Phailin move inland filling rivers and reservoirs to the brim. A State Government MP, Baijayant Panda, told UNISDR today that the flood situation is unpredictable and that early estimates are that 500,000 hectares of farmland have been inundated by the tidal surge and the heavy rains. “It is still too early to say the full extent of the damage to crop lands but it is significant. We may need help from central government with food stocks,” he said.
14 Oct 2013 News briefs

Disasters lead to new Europe housing strategy

A meeting of ministers and heads of agencies for housing, urban development and land administration from 55 countries in Geneva this week adopted a new Strategy for Sustainable Housing which will boost implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action, the current global agreement for reducing disaster risk, across wider Europe. The Ministerial Meeting on Housing and Land Management for the region covered by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) recognized that “Natural as well as human-generated disasters, including those created by a changing climate, have resulted in large-scale damage to housing across the ECE region and present serious challenges for governments.” The Strategy calls for “common efforts by member States to develop frameworks for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. This includes emergency preparedness, contingency planning and risk-prevention measures through building safer houses in safer places and locating hazardous industry and other activities at safe distances from housing.”
11 Oct 2013 News briefs

Child safety tops South East Europe forum agenda

Budva, Montenegro – Children and their safety was top of the agenda at a regional cooperation forum focused on providing more secure environments for young people.
11 Oct 2013 News briefs

UN global survey explains why so many people living with disabilities die in disasters

The results of the first-ever UN global survey of persons living with disabilities on how they cope with disasters, illustrates why they die, or are injured, in disproportionate numbers in disasters. An estimated 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability. Whether in multi-hazard prone United States of America or Bangladesh, earthquake-prone Italy or flood-prone Thailand, people living with disabilities across the world say they are rarely consulted about their needs and only 20% could evacuate immediately without difficulty in the event of a sudden disaster event, the remainder could only do so with a degree of difficulty and 6% would not be able to do so at all. If given sufficient time, the percentage of those who could evacuate with no difficulty rises from 20% to 38% but 58% feel they would still have either some, or a lot of, difficulty while 4% would still not be able to evacuate.
10 Oct 2013 Press release

IPU forum focuses on disability

On the eve of the release of a major survey on disability and disasters a leading MP today urged people living with disabilities to follow his example and be more active in political life and decision-making roles. Mr Mirko Tomassoni, a member of the San Marino parliament, said people living with disabilities should embrace the ‘nothing about us without us’ mantra and challenge physical, institutional and attitudinal barriers that prevent inclusive disaster management planning. The MP said the wider issues in society that people living with disabilities faced were also relevant in times of disaster.
9 Oct 2013 News briefs
Regional Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction take place from Africa to the Pacific Regional Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction take place from Africa to the Pacific.
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