Donors Call for Vigilance on Natural Disaster Risks

Only a statue stands undamaged in one of the quake-ravaged streets of downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls for more attention to reducing natural disaster risks on International Day for Disaster Reduction. Photo by: Marco Dormino / United Nations

The world’s urban communities are now more than ever acutely at risk of natural calamities, according to United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon.

Words such as “biggest, deadliest, [and] worst ever” have been in the headlines this year due to earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and other disasters, Ban said in his message on International Day for Disaster Reduction, which is observed Oct. 13.

“Those words are likely to be heard for years to come, as the climate changes and hazards multiply,” Ban said. “Reducing disaster risk is everybody’s business, and needs everyone’s participation and investment – civil society, professional networks as well as municipal and national governments.”

A report by the American Red Cross warned that the next urban disaster could be worse than January’s earthquake in Haiti.

The report finds that some 1 billion people in urban centers of low- and middle-income countries live in slums or informal settlements, in poor-quality homes on dangerous sites, and with inadequate access to infrastructure and essential services that help to reduce disaster risks.

The European Commission on Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection has reiterated its commitment to incorporate disaster risk reduction in its humanitarian and development efforts, while the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has highlighted its holistic approach in disaster risk reduction that aims to strengthen both community safety and resilience.

The Canadian International Development Agency, meanwhile, is contributing 3.5 million Canadian dollars (USD3.4 million) to the Canadian Red Cross to help improve the disaster response capacity of Caribbean countries. The money will be used to provide training to Caribbean communities to help them prepare for natural calamities. 

About the author

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    Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.