Disaster-risk resilience is crucial to protecting vulnerable communities
30 Aug 19 - Source: Myanmar Times - The past five years have been the hottest on record in the Asia-Pacific. Unprecedented heatwaves have swept across the region, cascading into
Yet heat is only part of the picture. Tropical cyclones in new, unprepared parts of our region have caused devastatingly frequent floods. In Iran, these have affected 10 million people this year and displaced 500,000, half of them children. Bangladesh is experiencing its fourth wave of flooding. Last year, India's Kerala state faced its worst floods in a century.
This is the new climate reality in the Asia-Pacific, including Myanmar. The scale of economic losses forecast for the region is sobering. Average annual losses for disasters by 2030 are expected to quadruple to about US$675 billion (K1.02 quadrillion), or 2.4 percent of the region's GDP.
Economic losses of such magnitude will undermine economic growth and the region's efforts to reduce poverty and inequality, keeping children out of schools and adults of work. Basic health services will be undermined, crops destroyed and food security
Four areas of the region are particularly impacted, hotspots that combine vulnerability to climate change, poverty
Many countries' sustainable development prospects are directly dependent on their exposure to natural disasters and their ability to build resilience. Yet this vicious cycle of poverty, inequality
Conditional cash transfer systems can be particularly effective, as was shown in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Increasing pre-arranged risk finance and climate risk insurance is also crucial. While investments needed are significant, in most countries these are equivalent to less than half the costs forecast to result from natural disasters.
The use of technological innovations to protect the region from natural disasters must go hand in hand with these investments. Big data improve the readiness of our economies and our societies by revealing patterns and associations between complex disaster risks and predicting extreme weather and
China and India are leading the way in using technology to warn people of impending disasters, make their infrastructure more resilient, and deliver targeted assistance to affected people. Asia and the Pacific can learn from them, and multilateral cooperation is the way to give scale to our region's disaster-resilience effort. With this ambition in mind, representatives of countries across the region are meeting at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok this week to explore regional responses to natural disasters.
Their focus will include strengthening the Asia-Pacific Disaster Resilience Network and
Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is