Ranking As Third Most Disaster-Prone Country
Next to the island of Vanuatu and the Kingdom of Tonga, which are both located in the South Pacific Ocean, the Philippines came in as the third most vulnerable to disaster risks and natural hazards in the world, according to a study by the United Nations. The World Risk Index 2011, developed by the UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security in Germany, ranked each of the 173 countries according to their “risk score” or their exposure to hazards such as earthquakes, floods and storms, drought and sea level rise; its vulnerability and susceptibility; and its coping and adaptive capacities.
The Philippines with a WorldRiskIndex of 24.32% is behind Vanuatu’s 32% and Tonga’s 29.08% but we must take note that the top 2 countries are just small island republics with much less inhabitants than our country. The index focuses on countries’ exposure to sudden hazards such as earthquakes, floods and storms as well as calamities that occur slowly over a long period of time such as drought and sea level rise that is becoming more frequent due to climate change. The Philippines significantly rose on the list from placing 12th in 2009 then 6th in 2010.
By coincidence, the 2011 UN report, which was released in September, came at the time when our country was suffering on floods caused by two (2) successive tropical storms. The report noted that the Philippines is greatly affected by extreme natural hazards and that it needs to focus more on disaster risk reduction than on relief and rehabilitation efforts.
Late last week, I happened to be at the International Conference on Innovative ICT, CIO and Natural Disasters held at De La Salle University in Manila. The conference was attended by representatives from different countries and discussions centered on their experiences, current practices and plans in managing natural disasters especially about mitigating them through the use of information and communications. Now, more than ever, is the time for our government to have a sense of urgency and compassion in implementing the necessary moves to prevent the debilitating effects of natural disasters on our people.