The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent says governments around the world must double the amount of money they spend on preparation for disasters in order to save lives and property. The experiences of Asian countries in the Indian Ocean tsunami and other disasters has put the need for new measures into stark relief, as VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins in Jakarta reports.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent said in a report Monday that current global spending on disaster preparedness is around four percent of the 10 billion dollars spent annually on humanitarian aid.
That amount must double, to around one billion dollars, to protect the lives of people in disaster-prone areas and people living in vulnerable communities, it said.
The Red Cross released this report in Indonesia, where communities have suffered a string of disasters in recent years, including the Indian Ocean tsunami, volcano eruptions and earthquakes.
The Indian Ocean tsunami, that claimed almost 200-thousand lives in a dozen Indian Ocean countries nearly two years ago, made clear to the international community the threat posed by such disasters to those living in their path.
Johan Schaar, the International Federation's special representative for the tsunami operation based in Geneva, told VOA in Jakarta Monday that the lessons learned from the 2004 tsunami must not be wasted.
"The aim is to protect people against the consequences of natural disasters, to protect people in the sense to spare lives, to have less physical impact of natural disasters, to protect the assets of people, and this is particularly about the poorest segments of the population in the disaster prone countries," Schaar says.
Schaar says risk reduction can range from implementing building standards and building codes to withstand earthquakes, to teaching people first aid, to protecting coastlines.
An example, Schaar says, is the recent radio network launched by the Indonesian Red Cross in Aceh to transmit early warning information about tsunamis to coastal areas.
Schaar says programs to help reduce the effects of natural disasters must be supported by governments in order to be effective.
"These are feasible actions and programs, they have been tried and tested. It's a question of having the political leadership and the will to invest in these measures that is important," Schaar says.
Schaar says risk reduction must become a high priority in all disaster prone areas and governments and humanitarian agencies need to spend more on disaster preparedness in order to save lives.