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Home » News

Disaster risk awareness key to preventing casualties, says UN ambassador

Article / Review by on December 29, 2011 – 8:16 pmNo Comments

Disaster risk awareness key to preventing casualties, says UN ambassador

Senator Loren Legarda of the Philippines, UNISDR champion on disaster risk reduction for Asia-PacificSenator Loren Legarda of the Philippines, UNISDR champion on disaster risk reduction for Asia-Pacific

Better disaster risk preparations may have helped avert casualties when tropical storm Washi slammed into the Philippines this month, a United Nations champion for disaster risk reduction said today.

Senator Loren Legarda of the Philippines, who is a Disaster Risk Reduction Champion for the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), urged local authorities to immediately implement the country’s national Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan and devote enhanced resources to mitigating risks from natural disasters.

“Strengthening the capacity of local government units to address disaster risks and hazards is a major component of the national strategy for disaster resilience,” said Ms. Legarda. “A national plan, no matter how good, will remain ineffective if not translated into local plans and action.”

Strengthening the capacity of local government units to address disaster risks and hazards is a major component of the national strategy for disaster resilience.

The tropical storm, known locally as Sendong, swept across the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on 17 December, killing more than 1,000 people in massive flooding, flash floods and landslides. Some 300,000 people have been displaced, many of whom are taking refuge with relatives or in makeshift structures.

Following the storm, Ms. Legarda called on local authorities throughout the country to invest in flood infrastructure, including river embankments, pumping stations, flood walls, drainage systems, storm drains, canals and flood retention areas, noting the high number of casualties caused by Washi could be due to a lack of awareness of the risks involved.

“I don’t think there was any seriousness and understanding of the gravity of Sendong. Even if there had been sufficient warning, there was no preparedness,” Ms. Legarda said. “A clear and effective early warning and response system using red flags like in Bangladesh mush be established.”

UNISDR is the secretariat of a strategic framework – known as the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and adopted by UN Member States in 2000 – which aims to guide and coordinate efforts to achieve substantive reduction in disaster losses and build more resilient communities and countries.

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> United Nations (UN).

The General Assembly in session. Photo credit: UN / Eskinder Debebe The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN: membership totals 192 countries.

When States become Members of the United Nations, they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations. According to the Charter, the UN has four purposes:

  • to maintain international peace and security;
  • to develop friendly relations among nations;
  • to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights;
  • and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.

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* The above story is adapted from materials provided by United Nations (UN)
** More information at United Nations (UN)

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