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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid