News / Asia

Settlers in Risky Areas More Vulnerable to Disasters

A United Nations agency says the impact of the catastrophic floods in Pakistan could have been lessened had proper, preventive measures been taken.  The U.N. International Strategy For Disaster Reduction says the number of people affected by the flooding is very high because too many people were allowed to live in high-risk areas.  

Natural disasters have been increasing in recent months.  Pakistan's catastrophic floods have affected 20 million people and killed up to 1,600.  

The latest flooding and mudslides in China, fires in Russia and drought in Niger also have killed thousands and affected many millions of people.  

The U.N. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction says climate change is aggravating these extreme events, but other factors are making disasters worse.

The Agency's Director, Salvano Briceno, says human settlements are becoming increasingly vulnerable to disasters when people choose or are allowed to live in risky areas, for example, along riverbanks or forest-depleted slopes.  He says this is what has happened in Pakistan.

"If people would not have settled in the river banks, definitely the disaster would have been less because that is the main cause of the disaster, is people getting in the way of the river.  We know where rivers flow." he said.  "...  So, it is well known and that requires governments at all levels, local governments and national governments to have proper risk assessments made in order to avoid people settling in those areas.  There are other areas that can be used for settling a population."

Briceno notes Pakistan took sensible measures following the 2005 Kashmir-area earthquake.   But, he adds it is difficult for the government to implement long-term risk reduction measures because of war and poverty.  

He says many countries, such as Cuba and Chile have put early warning systems and other preventive measures in place.  These have successfully reduced the number of deaths from natural disasters.

He says China is doing a great deal about disaster risk reduction and has one of the most effective emergency response systems in the world.  But, he adds their challenges are huge.

He says Senegal and Burkina Faso are making progress in planting forests to reduce desertification.  But, the extreme poverty in Niger, he says makes it difficult for the country to put proper risk reduction measures in place.

Nevertheless, he says, there are steps Niger can take to ameliorate the effects of the country's chronic drought.

"In order to reduce the effects of drought, agricultural policies need to take into account risk reduction and drought-resistant crops, for example, need to be planted, more systematically, more heavily, not just the traditional crops," said Briceno.  "There are crops that are very water demanding and that are (planted) just because they are part of the traditional staple of the country, they continue to be utilized when there is a need to shift.  In some case, you need to shift the type of crops."

Briceno says disasters are not natural.  He says it is human intervention that creates the disaster.

He says when disaster strikes, humanitarian aid is essential.  But, when the emergency is over, he says governments must consider investing in long-term measures that can prevent the worst from happening in the future.

You May Like

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs