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Tunisia’s database a DRR ‘game-changer’

Tunisia has taken an important step to strengthen its national disaster management with the establishment of a new disaster loss database The database was validated at a major disaster risk reduction forum that also saw 120 practitioners and policymakers recommend that the post-2015 international framework for disaster risk reduction be a more accountable and legally binding charter or convention with funding attached for its implementation. The new database includes previously unreported localized (known as extensive) disasters as well as the more widely reported, bigger disasters (known as intensive).
2 Dec 2013 News briefs

Haiyan experiences confirm disability survey findings

This year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction published a survey that revealed how people living with disabilities are extremely vulnerable during times of disaster. Eighty percent would be unable to evacuate immediately without difficulty in the event of sudden disaster. Six percent said they would not be able to evacuate at all. The survey, published on October 13, also revealed that 71 percent of respondents have no personal preparedness plan for disasters. Only 31 percent always have someone to help them evacuate while 13 percent never do. On the plus side, respondents and their care-givers told vivid stories of resourceful people struggling against exclusion. In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, in the Philippines, a similar picture of people living with disabilities and their care-givers in times of disaster is emerging: they are both vulnerable as well as remarkably resilient. Below, five snapshots tell how people living with disabilities and their care-givers were affected by Typhoon Haiyan and how they are now facing up to rebuilding their lives and livelihoods. The stories were originally told by Chelsea Huggett of CBM International.
29 Nov 2013 News briefs

Cities campaign at core of island development plans

The 10 essentials of the Making Cities Resilient have formed a key part of a series of ambitious local action plans to strengthen sustainable development in Lanzarote. A coalition of political representatives and 33 community sectors who comprise the Biosphere Reserve Committee have joined to drive the impressive effort to strengthen local resilience on the Canary Island, in the Atlantic, off the north-west coast of Africa. An integrated management system has been developed covering 10 sectors, including energy, water and waste management, to strengthen climate change mitigation and adaptation.
28 Nov 2013 News briefs

The ‘silent disaster of local losses’

Largely unreported disasters across the Americas over the past two decades account for the majority of economic losses and more than half of all disaster-related deaths, according to new findings from the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. A 22-year analysis of 16 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean reveals that smaller, localized and more recurrent disasters that rarely, if ever, make the news cumulatively account for 90 per cent of the total number of people affected by disaster and are also responsible for 90 per cent of destruction or damage of homes. “This is irrevocable evidence on the cumulative impact of those disasters that are small, occur locally and are often ‘invisible’,” said Ricardo Mena the Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) for the Americas.
27 Nov 2013 News briefs

Arab region pushes for decentralized post-2015 framework

A major Arab regional consultation on the post-2015 international framework for disaster risk reduction has pinpointed governance and accountability and better local and national coordination as the key issues to strengthen. The League of Arab States hosted representatives from governments, specialized organizations, UN and international partners and civil society representatives as they developed a unified regional position on priorities for post-2015. The new agreement is expected to be adopted at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015 as a successor to the current Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015.
27 Nov 2013 News briefs

DRR takes centre stage of typhoon recovery

Disaster risk reduction is emerging as central to the Philippines’ recovery and reconstruction plans in the wake of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda. One of several leaders supporting increased investment in resilient structures is Mayor Ian Christopher Escario of Bantayan municipality, who oversaw a mass evacuation that limited the number of deaths to 15 people out of 90,000 in the face of the typhoon. “We were able to evacuate 30,000 people a couple of days before using sirens and radio messages. People were informed but nobody could foresee the violence of the storm surge,” Mayor Escario said. “Now we need to invest more in resilient infrastructures as all the roofs of the buildings have been blown away. Economic losses are huge and we are still assessing the damages and will take the necessary lessons of what happened.”
26 Nov 2013 News briefs

UNISDR launches new video competition

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) is launching a new video clip competition under the theme “Promoting Investments for Resilient Nations and Communities”. The initiative, in partnership with the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) of Thailand and Thai Public Broadcasting Service, follows the success of the Film Festival at the Fifth Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, in Indonesia, in October 2012. “We invite all participants, youth, students, media, film makers, experts and the general public to participate in the video competition and to see how they view disaster risk reduction issues. Their voice matters to us especially now we are discussing the successor of the Hyogo Framework for Action” said Brigitte Leoni of the UNISDR Asia Pacific office.
25 Nov 2013 News briefs

CEOs: 'We have resilience tools, let's use them'

More than 50 CEOs and top managers from the insurance, bank, airline, retail, real estate and other industries in Asia gathered today in Manila to consider incentives and benchmarking tools to make their corporations more resilient against disasters. The meeting comes two weeks after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, which, according to latest official figures, killed 5,209 people and continues to affect more than 10 million Filipinos. The host of the forum, Mr. Hans T. Sy, President of SM Prime Holdings Inc, the country’s largest mall operator, said: “The effect of climate change is coming sooner than expected. In the Philippines alone, we have experienced 104 significant typhoons and 72 floods since 2002.”
22 Nov 2013 News briefs

Philippines launches safe schools campaign post-Haiyan

The Philippines today looked to the future and launched a new “Safe Schools” campaign with the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) even as the country continues to deal with the many humanitarian needs left behind by Typhoon Haiyan/ Yolanda including the fact that thousands of children are unable to return to education because over 600 schools have been destroyed and 1.7 million children have lost their homes. Margareta Wahlström, the head of UNISDR, helped launch the initiative which will target 48,000 public schools, with the Under Secretary for the Department of Education, Dina Ocampo, Senator Loren Legarda and the UNDP Country Director, Tohishiro Tanaka. Under the slogan, “How Safe is Your School?” the programme is designed to raise public awareness and build social demand for safety checks, disaster preparedness, and school education on disaster risk reduction.
21 Nov 2013 Press release

Safe schools key to sustainable development

A new programme on school safety launched yesterday in the Philippines less than two weeks after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan urges pupils, teachers and communities to proactively assess the resilience and preparedness of their schools. The unveiling of the "How Safe Is Your School?” initiative in the Philippines is the first step of what the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) intends will be formalized as a global initiative at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, in Japan, in March 2015.
21 Nov 2013 News briefs

Private sector key to typhoon recovery

The private sector will be crucial to the massive recovery effort in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, one of the Philippines’ top chief executives said. “A lot is expected from the private sector in the rehabilitation of calamity-stricken areas in the Philippines,” said Mr. Hans T. Sy, the President of SM Prime Holdings Inc, the country’s largest mall operator. “We, from the private sector, are more than willing to help and are already doing our share in helping the communities. With the Typhoon Haiyan experience, as well as the Bohol earthquake, more businesses are convinced to invest in disaster resilience,” said Mr Sy, who is also a member of the UN Office for Risk Reduction’s (UNISDR) Private Sector Advisory Group. “The Philippines is prone to natural hazards such as severe weather conditions and earthquakes. The more businesses invest in resilience, the sooner we can get back to normal after disasters.”
20 Nov 2013 News briefs

Pacific unites on development agenda

The small islands of the Pacific continue to lead the world in efforts to unite climate change and disaster risk reduction initiatives under one development agenda. “Sustainable development for us is a matter of national security,” said Mr David Sheppard, the Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), before a packed forum entitled ‘Meeting the sustainability challenge in the post-2015 era: A vision for resilient nations, large and small’. “We are working to protect people and the environment and that means we have to support livelihoods in a way that reinforces sustainable development and builds on the rich tradition of human settlement in the Pacific. There are many examples of Pacific solutions being tailored for Pacific problems.”
20 Nov 2013 News briefs

Evacuation saves whole island from Typhoon Haiyan

The prompt evacuation of 1,000 people from a tiny island that had all 500 houses destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan saved the entire population according to a local leader who has been a long-time champion for disaster risk reduction. The former Mayor of San Francisco, Cebu Province, Alfredo Arquillano, said years of work to strengthen community preparedness and reduce disaster risk prevented a catastrophe for the residents of Tulang Diyot. San Francisco is officially recognized as a role model by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) in a highly hazard-prone part of the world. “The day before, when it was clear how bad the typhoon would be, we decided to evacuate all 1,000 people. Because we’ve done so much work on disaster risk everyone fully understood the need to move to safety,” Mr. Arquillano said. He is still referred to locally as Mayor Al.
15 Nov 2013 News briefs

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
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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