Asia needs to spend more to cut disaster risk: UN

Friday, 26 November 2010 01:11 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

MANILA (Reuters) - The United Nations says Asian governments need to spend more in disaster risk reduction measures to meet Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of cutting poverty and improving access to health and education by 2015.

Earthquake and tsunami victims help carry cooking equipment and food aid from an Indonesian Army Mi-17 helicopter after they were delivered to Malakopa in Mentawai region, in the province of West Sumatra October 30, 2010. . REUTERS/Crack Palinggi

In 2009, Asia accounted for about 40 percent of more than 330 natural disasters around the world but 89 percent of victims, the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters said.

Disaster damage costs have shot up to nearly $1 trillion dollars from $75.5 billion in the 1960s, and 85 percent of people in developing countries across the world are exposed to quakes, typhoons, floods and drought, it said.

Margareta Wahlstrom, U.N. special representative on disaster risk reduction, said at a meeting of Asian parliamentarians in Manila that governments needed to allocate at least 1 percent of their budget toward disaster risk reduction projects.

“Disaster risk reduction will contribute to reducing poverty through ensuring that people’s assets are not destroyed during disasters, particularly in countries were there is very low insurance coverage,” Wahlstrom said, adding insurance coverage was insufficient in about 70 percent of countries.

“If we are going to achieve MDG targets for which governments have allocated some budget, perhaps we could consider increasing disaster risk reduction funds; otherwise you can’t achieve these goals,” she said.

Steps ranged from building safer, more disaster-resistant schools, hospitals and other infrastructure to enhancing public health skills to respond to emergency cases, she said.