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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid