News / Asia

UN: Natural Disasters Pose Serious Economic Threat to Asia

Residents cross a river with the body of a child after retrieving it from the flash flood-hit village of Andap, in New Bataan township, Compostela Valley in southern Philippines, December 5, 2012.
Residents cross a river with the body of a child after retrieving it from the flash flood-hit village of Andap, in New Bataan township, Compostela Valley in southern Philippines, December 5, 2012.
Ron Corben
A new United Nations report assessing the impact of global disasters says Asia remains the most vulnerable region, especially China, where the economic toll in 2012 exceeded $10 billion. Economists warn the disasters may represent a serious threat to the region’s otherwise healthy economies.

The joint report launched by the U.N.’s Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Asian Development Bank says Asia Pacific is the world's most disaster prone region.

In 2012, alone, in South and East Asia, there have been earthquakes, storms and other natural disasters affecting 65 million people and cost $15 billion. That figure is a drop from 2011 when the region recorded a staggering $300 billion loss because, in large part, of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami and Thailand’s floods.

“Asia is extremely disaster prone region and thus a very high increase in its trend over time from 1950 onwards," explains Debby Sapir, director of the Brussels-based Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. "Asia’s share in the last 10 years is also extremely important. About 90 percent of the total affected population in the world are in Asia and almost all of the other deaths, the economic losses and the numbers of events are all rather high in Asia.”

Typhoon Bopha

Residents cross a river using suspended ropes at Andap, New Bataan township, Compostela Valley in southern Philippines, Dec. 5, 2012, a day after Typhoon Bopha made landfall.Residents cross a river using suspended ropes at Andap, New Bataan township, Compostela Valley in southern Philippines, Dec. 5, 2012, a day after Typhoon Bopha made landfall.
x
Residents cross a river using suspended ropes at Andap, New Bataan township, Compostela Valley in southern Philippines, Dec. 5, 2012, a day after Typhoon Bopha made landfall.
Residents cross a river using suspended ropes at Andap, New Bataan township, Compostela Valley in southern Philippines, Dec. 5, 2012, a day after Typhoon Bopha made landfall.
In the Philippines, the recent toll from Typhoon Bopha - the 17th natural disaster to hit the country this year - has claimed more than 600 lives and more than 300,000 people displaced.

Jerry Velasquez, head of the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction for Asia Pacific, says that, although communities in Philippines and regions such as Bangladesh have been able to better prepare for disasters to reduce the impact, the economic losses are continuing to rise.

“Economic losses are going through the roof. If you look at the overall trend on economic losses it’s mainly driven by increasing exposure of people and economic activities - on flood prone areas and cyclone prone areas,” he says.

Velasquez adds that the number of people living in flood prone regions in Asia has more than doubled, in the past 40 years, to more than 60 million. About 120 million people live in areas exposed to cyclones.

Economic impact

As Asian nations have gotten wealthier, the economic impact of the storms has also risen. Now, with more factories and businesses in flood-prone areas or near coastlines vulnerable to rising sea levels, there are fears that such natural disasters could have a deep impact on countries’ economic growth.

“Asia Pacific, as a region, is arguably the most successful in economic development, economic growth and poverty reduction; and is also facing the greatest threat from natural disasters," notes Vinod Thomas, a director-general at the Asian Development Bank. "Going forward what we are looking at is not an interruption to economic growth and development but a systematic threat that could potentially derail economic development in the region.”

The report says governments need to invest more to reduce disaster risks and holds Bangladesh up as a model. It says the country’s $10 billion spent in the past three decades has built improved early warning systems and better community preparations that have dramatically reduced the loss of life from severe storms.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs