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Tacloban to call typhoon summit

The City of Tacloban which accounts for almost 50% of the dead and displaced in the Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) disaster, is to hold a summit inviting mayors and other public representatives to come to the city to talk about the lessons learned for disaster risk management. The announcement comes with recognition by the city authorities that there were several barriers to compliance with evacuation procedures despite many sweeps through the most exposed neighbourhoods – or Barangays as they are known in the Philippines – by teams of local volunteers and officials led by the Barangay captains. Three days before Typhoon Haiyan struck, a meeting was called by the City Mayor, Alfred Romualdez, of all 138 Barangay Captains to be briefed on the coming storm and they were all instructed to order their constituents to evacuate. The meeting was reportedly attended by about 75% of all Barangay captains.
10 Dec 2013 News briefs

30 days on Tacloban remembers

Sunday marked thirty days since Typhoon Haiyan (known as Yolanda locally) tried to rip the heart out of the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines with winds from hell that sucked the sea along with them to take the lives of thousands and leave millions homeless. The strength of the Philippine people in the wake of one of the worst typhoons ever to make landfall, is something special to behold. Yesterday they even managed to turn on some Christmas lights in the centre of Tacloban, the commercial heart of the disaster zone, despite the continuing curfew and absence of street lighting. The predominantly Catholic city remembered its dead on the Second Sunday of Advent as hundreds packed into the partly roofless Church of Santa Ninõ to give thanks for the gift of life and to receive the only kind of psychological support available here for those who have been traumatized by the loss of family and friends: the age old solace of religion.
9 Dec 2013 News briefs

Global insurance group boosts DRR partnership

A global insurance company has provided a significant boost to public-private partnerships aimed at reducing disaster risk. The Chairman and CEO of the AXA Group, Mr Henri de Castries, signed a Statement of Commitment by the Private Sector for Disaster Prevention, Resilience and Risk Reduction, at AXA’s head office in Paris, during a meeting with the Chief of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Ms Margareta Wahlström. “The AXA Group is already supporting the work of UNISDR’s Private Sector Advisory Group so it makes sense now to become a full member of the Partnership,” said Mr. de Castries, whose AXA Group has 160,000 employees in 57 countries.
9 Dec 2013 News briefs

Indian Ocean islands move to strengthen DRR

Indian Ocean states are taking important steps to strengthen their individual and collective disaster risk management. Five islands – the Union of the Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Zanzibar – are working to establish and manage disaster loss databases. The 2005-15 Hyogo Framework for Action highlights the importance of accounting for past losses that can provide a basis for better risk assessments, more appropriate disaster planning and effective measures to reduce vulnerability and exposure. The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), in a joint effort with the Indian Ocean Commission’s (IOC) ISLANDS Project, is supporting the strengthening of local capacities and expertise so that the countries are able to produce their own risk assessments and loss databases.
3 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

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

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

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

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

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
The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.
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