Governments must do more to reduce the impact of natural disasters – UN body

18 January 2006

Marking the one year anniversary of an international agreement aimed at reducing the impact of natural disasters, a senior United Nations official today called on countries to speed up their efforts to make risk reduction a national priority.

Salvano Briceno, Director of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), said that since the signing of the Hyogo Framework in January 2005, some 40 countries had put disaster risk reduction at the top of their political agendas. While this progress is essential, he called for further actions to strengthen prevention systems.

“These are very positive steps forward but governments must accelerate their efforts. We cannot reduce the impact of natural hazards if policies and legislation are not in place,” Mr. Briceno said in a news release.

The head of the Geneva-based ISDR praised new strategies and laws to make disaster risk reduction a priority in several countries, including Sri Lanka which was hit by last year’s devastating tsunami, but warned that with environmental degradation, global warming and other problems “the next natural hazard is just a matter of time.”

“The current drought in Kenya and Ethiopia is a tragic yet preventable example of a natural hazard that has turned into a serious food crisis with some 11 million people across the region in desperate need of food aid,” said Mr. Briceno.

The Hyogo Framework for Action, which runs from 2005-2015, calls on governments to invest in measures such as national and local risk assessments, early warning systems, public awareness and education, better urban planning and safer building construction codes.


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