Philippines tragedy underlines need for improved risk management

Source(s): United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Asia and Pacific
Credit: NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce
Credit: NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce

GENEVA, 19 December 2011 - The UN Secretary-General's Special Representative on Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, today extended her sympathy to the people of Mindanao in the Philippines, following the great loss of life resulting from Typhoon Sendong.

The UNISDR Chief, Wahlström, said: “There are many lessons to be learned about risk management from this tragedy. The first is that more must be done to ensure early warning systems are effective in an age when climate change is intensifying the impact of typhoons. The storm was identified two days before flash floods swept through Cagayan de Oro City and Illigan City. More must be done to educate people on disasters and climate change so they understand the risk they run when they refuse to heed warnings and do not evacuate on time.

“The second is to understand the deadly cocktail of exposure and vulnerability created by poverty, rapid urbanization and deforestation which results in huge loss of life, homes and hard-won development gains when a storm of this magnitude strikes. The proportion of the world’s population exposed to typhoons and cyclones has almost tripled in the last 30 years and disaster management is not keeping pace.”

Philippines Senator, Loren Legarda, UNISDR Disaster Risk Reduction Champion for Asia, called on local governments throughout the country to invest “in flood infrastructure, including river embankments, pumping stations, flood walls, drainage systems, storm drains, canals and flood retention areas.”

She said: “We have to take note that the high number of casualties caused by Typhoon Sendong could be due to lack of awareness of the risk and proper action of residents in affected areas, as they have not experienced floods of such magnitude in the past. Thus, information dissemination and community disaster preparedness is also a crucial part in this effort, because an educated populace would be prepared and know what to do in times of disaster.”

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