Thursday, 8 September 2011

World Risk Report 2011 just released

The Alliance Development Work (B√ľndnis Entwicklung Hilft), the alliance of German development and relief agencies providing long-term aid in the aftermath of major disasters, have just published in collaboration with the United Nations University and the Institute for Environment and Human Security the World Risk Report.

This publication shows that disaster risk is always composed of two components:
  • Exposure to natural hazards and climate change
  • Social vulnerability
The report clarifies that disasters cannot be attributed to meteorological or geological phenomena only, but that they are determined also by social structures and processes within a society (such as level of education, extent  of poverty, food situation or functioning of governmental institutions).
Thus, for example, the Netherlands and Hungary are relatively high exposed to natural hazards and climate change, but due to their social, economic and ecological situations, they have a comparatively good ranking in the risk index. Similarly, the earthquakes of Haiti and Japan strongly demonstrate this relationship. While 28,000 people died in the Japan earthquake (9.0 on the moment-magnitude scale), 220,000 people died in Haiti in a much weaker earthquake measuring 7.0 on the moment-magnitude scale. Owing to higher coping and adaptive capacities, e.g. building laws, there were significantly fewer victims in Japan.
The index examines four key components: exposure to hazards, susceptibility to damage caused by potential disasters, capacity to cope, and existing adaptation strategies. Assessing countries based on these components, the index identifies the Vanuatu, Tonga, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Guatemala as the top five counties most at risk of disasters

Organizations working with humanitarian aid and natural disasters:
Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction
United Nations Office for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
ReliefWeb: In-depth profiles, updates and reports on countries and disasters.
United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund

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