Indian Ocean islands move to strengthen DRR

This NASA Earth Observatory image shows the sediment-choked Onibe River, in Madagascar, after Tropical Cyclone Giovanna in February 2012.
This NASA Earth Observatory image shows the sediment-choked Onibe River, in Madagascar, after Tropical Cyclone Giovanna in February 2012.

GENEVA, 4 December 2013 – 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.

Disaster management practitioners and policymakers from the region gathered at the IOC’s headquarter in Mauritius for three days to advance progress on the initiative.

Once these disaster loss databases are established the Indian Ocean states will also develop models to estimate the probability of losses of a given magnitude in a country in a given period.

For instance, this probabilistic and prospective risk analysis, as it is known, will seek to estimate losses that could potentially occur over a certain period of time from cyclones, floods and storm surges, which regularly visit the region. The model will also estimate expected annual average loss from all disaster events that could happen.

The models to be used are the same as those employed in the UN’s 2013 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction.

The IOC’s Head of Environment and Natural Resources, Ms Gina Bonne, is delighted with progress. “Thanks to the cooperation between IOC and UNISDR, our region will soon acquire the technical capacity to act autonomously and competently in this field,” she said.

Ms Manuela Di Mauro of UNISDR’s Risk Knowledge Section, working on the EC-funded UNISDR/IOC initiative, paid tribute to the strong spirit of partnership driving the process.

“Countries in the region are very proactive and it is impressive to see how regional cooperation is strengthening the understanding of disaster risk via more and better loss databases and risk assessments,” she said.

“The Indian Ocean has a mix of expertise and experience that when combined can help each country as well as the region as a whole. We need more partnerships between institutions such as government agencies and universities to strengthen the management and use of the databases.”

IOC was established in 1982 with headquarters in Mauritius to accelerate regional integration and promote sustainable development.

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