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

    Greenpeace Leak: US-EU Trade Deal Would Favor Corporations

    Activist group leaks classified documents to 'shine a light' on talks that could create the world's largest bilateral trade and investment pact

    Video Ethiopia's Drought Takes Toll on Children

    East African country’s crops failed in 2015, creating food shortages for 10 million – including 6 million children whose development may be compromised

    What Your First Name Reveals About Who You Vote For

    People named Chad are more likely to be Republicans and Jonathans are usually Democrats

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora