GENEVA, 28 November 2011
- It's one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. Over the last twenty years a yearly average of some four million people have been affected by disasters in the Philippines each year and over 33,000 people have lost their lives in 363 major reported events.
Most recently, back-to-back typhoons combined with monsoon rains disrupted the lives of 3.2 million people in the Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon regions in September and October.
The Government of Philippines, through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) have now begun the development of a new disaster loss database for the country, with support from UNISDR, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Philippines is the latest country in Asia to begin to systematically account for all its disaster losses, using standardized criteria and definitions and local level geo-referencing.
Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Sri Lanka already have fully institutionalized and nationally owned disaster databases, while Vietnam and Laos are well advanced in the process. Other databases exist in Nepal and in a number of Indian States, including Orissa and Tamil Nadu.
“Disaster loss accounting is the fundamental first step to understand risk and to justify increased investment in disaster risk reduction” said Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction, “We are delighted that Philippines has joined the growing number of countries to take this important step”.
A four day workshop was held in Manila last week, including a day long open session attended by 40 participants from ministries, governmental agencies, NGO’s and academia.
The workshop was designed to provide hands-on training on establishing and utilizing the database as well as to address building an institutional framework within the government that will ensure the maintenance and regular updating of the database and making it available to stakeholders to analyze risks in their specific areas of operation and inform the design of risk reduction interventions.
UNISDR supports countries efforts in disaster loss accounting through a network of partners. In Asia, national efforts have been supported through UNDP Country Offices, the UNDP Regional Centre Bangkok and other partners including the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC) and the National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET), Nepal.
In Latin America, regional efforts are coordinated through a seismological observatory, Corporacion OSSO, while country level support has been provided by UNDP, the Inter American Development Bank (IADB), the Andean Community of Nations amongst others.
The Arab Academy for Science Technology and Maritime Transport provides the regional anchor in the Arab States, while national level implementation has been supported by UNDP and the World Bank. In Africa, the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development, Nairobi is the hub. Currently 38 countries have set up national disaster loss databases.