UN Unveils New Disaster Risk Index

An aerial view of Marovo Lagoon in Solomon Islands. Solomon Islands is listed as one of the top countries most at risk of disasters. Photo by: Eskinder Debebe / UN

The United Nations University has launched a risk index that could help donors and aid agencies have a better grasps of the vulnerability of different countries to calamities and, as a result, better tailor international response and resilience-building initiatives to disaster-prone countries.

The World Risk Report 2011 was created by the U.N. University Institute for Environment and Human Security along with five German non-governmental organizations. The index takes into account a country’s economic, political and ecological factors in determining its capacity to respond to disasters, IRIN News says.

“The index gives you all that information at a glance — showing the strength of a particular area’s capacity to adapt or cope in percentages, which is useful to communicate the strengths and weakness of a particular area when you are seeking funding from donors,” the news agency quotes Jörn Birkmann, the scientific head of the team in charge of developing the index.

The index examines four key components: exposure to hazards, susceptibility to damage caused by potential disasters, capacity to cope, and existing adaptation strategies. Assessing countries based on these components, the index identifies the Vanuatu, Tonga, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Guatemala as the top five counties most at risk of disasters.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.