News / Asia

    Nations Discuss Steps to Improve Response to Disasters

    FILE - A man sifts through pile of garbage, left over after the flood, at a temporary dump site on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 20, 2011.
    FILE - A man sifts through pile of garbage, left over after the flood, at a temporary dump site on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 20, 2011.
    Ron Corben
    The United Nations estimates that countries in Asia account for some 80 percent of the world’s disaster events, such as typhoons, earthquakes and heat waves.  As nations try to better plan for responding to and recovering from disasters, the United Nations has convened a gathering of some 40 countries in Bangkok to discuss how to ensure that human and economic losses are kept to a minimum.

    Over 2,500 delegates from more than 40 countries are attending the four day conference on disaster risk reduction as governments and authorities look to further build on gains from the past decade in efforts to reduce the loss of life from catastrophic events.
     
    Asia Pacific region vulnerable


    Opening the conference, Thailand's deputy of the ruling military junta General Thanasak Patimaprakorn, said economic losses from disasters in the Asia Pacific are getting larger with the region now an increasing driver of global economic growth.
     
    "Asia Pacific is a high risk region that suffered in the past 10 years from most natural disasters, more than 10 major disasters took place in this region causing invaluable damages to life and property. For Thailand, suffered two major disasters including the tsunami in 2004 and the [2011] great flood," he said.
     
    Thailand's 2011 flood claimed over 800 people's lives with economic costs in excess of $45 billion, hitting major industrial zones in central provinces, that affected global manufacturing chains in auto and electronics industries.
     
    The current regional conference is part of a series of international agreements that followed the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that claimed over 230,000 lives across 14 countries. In 2008 the devastating cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, also known as Burma, claimed more than 100,000 lives. In November last year communities in the Philippines were hit by typhoon Haiyan claiming 6,000 lives.
     
    But other nations, such as India and Bangladesh, also prone to typhoons and cyclones, have made major gains in mitigating death tolls by way of early warning systems and improved local preparedness.
     
    Margareta Wahlstrom, U.N.'s representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, says progress has come in building local community resilience and effective awareness campaigns.
     
    "We can say that fewer people lose their lives, we can say that in some countries economic losses are beginning to get under control, we also know that we have much better early warning systems, but we also know they need to become even better, we know that many countries are much better prepared for disaster response and we know that many countries effectively evacuate people to save lives in times of crisis."
     
    Mass evacuations

    Walhstrom cites mass evacuations in the Philippines ahead of Typhoon Haian last November, and in India ahead of Cyclone Phailin last October, as examples of the kind of steps that can save many lives.
     
    Walhstrom also says better grass roots development such as improved health systems, education, and higher incomes have acted as "foundation blocks" enabling communities to withstand disasters.
     
    This week’s meeting is aimed at developing a new set of recommendations on legislative reforms, decentralizing authority, creating more effective warning systems, and empowering women who are often the most vulnerable in disaster areas.
     
    The final recommendations from the Asia Pacific Ministerial will then be under consideration at the Third U.N. World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan in March 2015.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora