Natural disasters like the powerful earthquake that hit Nepal on 25 April highlight the region's vulnerability, as well as lack of capacity in dealing with complex emergencies. ADB's Charlotte Benson discusses why disaster risk reduction needs to be taken seriously and explains why ADB is taking a more proactive role in this area in Asia and the Pacific.
Title: Why Asia Must Take Disaster Risk Reduction Seriously
Description: Natural disasters like the powerful earthquake that hit Nepal on 25 April highlight the region's vulnerability, as well as lack of capacity in dealing with complex emergencies. ADB's Charlotte Benson discusses why disaster risk reduction needs to be taken seriously and explains why ADB is taking a more proactive role in this area in Asia and the Pacific.
Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist
Asian Development Bank
Q: Should Asian nations be taking disaster risk reduction more seriously than ever before given the increasing global impact of climate change?
A: Absolutely. There is no country in Asia and the Pacific that is immune to disaster risk. The region as a whole is the most disaster prone area in the world according to a number of indicators. For instance if we look at numbers affected over the past 10 years something in over 4.4 billion people have been affected by disasters in Asia and the Pacific that’s equivalent to about 84% of total numbers affected globally. The region also faces a disproportionate share of economic losses relative to share in global GDP, through ADBs developing member countries alone over the past 10 years, they’ve lost in the region over a 120 million dollars daily as a consequence of disasters that’s basically losses to infrastructure, to roads, to produce, to hospitals, to homes that figure doesn’t take into account the consequences of those losses in terms loss of productivity, the implications of withdrawal of children from school and so on, so the true losses are even higher again.
Q: How does ADB’s work help to reduce the impact of disasters?
A: ADB attaches significant corporate interests to disaster risk management. For instance, in its Strategy 2020 and most recently the midterm review and the action plan that stemmed from that review. ADB last year also approved a new approach in plan for integrated disaster risk management, which addresses 3 key areas looking to incorporate disaster risk concerns into all of ADB’s investments to better integrate its work on disaster risk management and climate change adaptation and to strengthen the availability of finance in disaster risk management both financing for its reduction, financing for planning of the disasters we know still happen, and then post disaster support as well. To implement the plan, ADB then identifies cost cutting actions focusing on institutionalizing disaster risk management on capacity development and knowledge solutions, we’re actually investing in disaster resilience and on stakeholders engagements. These 4 areas are aligned very well with new plans onto the post 2015 framework for disaster risk reduction that is being disscussed in Sendai. It also translates obviously into significant ADB projects on the ground. Over the past 10 years, ADB has spent in the region of about 6 billion dollars on post disaster assistance because of course we, unfortunately, get significant requests for that type of assistance. However that assistance now incorporates measures to build back better, ensuring that the restored infrastructure is better able to withstand future disaster events. ADB is also placing increasing emphasis on embedding disaster concerns into its portfolio work. In the past, we saw embedded actions in areas particularly of agriculture and natural resources and projects in the water sector, we are now also seeing evidence of projects for instance transport and education that take into account disaster risk in its projects.