News / Asia

Asia Pacific Region Faces Rising Costs From Storms, Disasters

A backhoe performs flood recovery work in Muang Ake, Bangkok.
A backhoe performs flood recovery work in Muang Ake, Bangkok.
Ron Corben

Climate and disaster risk experts say the Asia Pacific region faces rising costs from storms and disasters often tied to climate change, creating new challenges for regions as they try to prepare and recover from such events. Warning comes as Thailand and the Philippines attempt to bounce back from recent disasters and the region gets ready to mark the seventh anniversary of the devastating 2004 Indonesian earthquake and tsunami.

The backhoe lifts piles of discarded rubbish left from flood-stricken homes and businesses in the Muang Ake community on the outskirts of Bangkok.

The community, in Pathum Thani province, was hard hit during the recent floods, with waters of up to two meters inundating the area for over six weeks.

On a drive through, the community is a scene of devastation.  Furniture and wall panels lay discarded, as people go about cleaning up from the most severe floods in Thailand in over 50 years.

On Saturday, Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra was reported to have declared that the flood waters have receded from the area.

But for communities such as Muang Ake, recovery remains a distant goal, says Charun Likitrattanaporn, dean of agriculture at Rajamangala University of Technology campus at Muang Ake.

"This, I think, is long term because we have to reorganize.  Some parts are already totally damaged.  So it will take one or two years to recover.  Some [businesses] cannot open again because they have to invest again in furniture, equipment.  I think they cannot come back.  Some of them cannot come back," said Charun Likitrattanaporn.

Nationally, almost 800 lives were lost from Thailand's floods, with an economic toll close to $45 billion.  A state economic think tank says one million people are now unemployed as thousands of small businesses and several industrial estates try to revive themselves.

The United Nations says the five months of floods across Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam affected a population of up to 20 million people.

This week, the Philippine regions of Cagayan de Oro and Illigan are recovering from a tropical storm that officially left 1,000 dead, but with media reports putting the toll much higher.  The United Nations says more than 300,000 people were displaced and are now dependent on outside emergency assistance.

These tragedies come as Asia prepares to mark the seventh anniversary on Monday of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.  The tragedy claimed over 230,000 lives across 14 countries, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in history.

Bhichit Rattakul, from the Bangkok-based Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, says despite lessons from 2004, the region remains ill-prepared to cope with natural disasters.

"Asia prepared?  The answer from my point of view is no.  Even through some of the improvement has been going [on] for the last few years since the tsunami in 2004, but [there is] still a long way to go compared with the more violent situation into the future - climate change due to global warming," said Bhichit Rattakul.

The World Bank says the Asia Pacific region bears the brunt of natural disasters, accounting for 80 percent of lives lost globally.  Economic losses from disasters are also rising exponentially as more infrastructure is affected.

The bank, in a recent report, warned the number of people likely to be exposed to natural disasters by 2050 will double to 1.5 billion people, with 200 million in India alone.

Amit Jha, joint secretary of India's Natural Disaster Management Authority, says growing uncertainties arising from climate change means many nations may find past disaster mitigation measures inadequate.

"From the Indian point of view there's no definite point at which we can say that we are fully prepared because of the ferocity of disasters and the unpredictability is increasing," said Jha.  "Therefore, the traditional preparedness measures which were adequate 10 or 20 years back do not seem so adequate now."

The World Bank, which is collaborating with the Indian government, says urban areas are vulnerable and has recommended building and maintaining sound infrastructure and public services as key steps to reduce the risks from future natural disasters.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More