UN agencies move ahead on new initiative to mitigate impact of natural disasters

3 October 2006

In a further move to mitigate the impact of natural disasters, United Nations agencies today announced a new initiative to lower the risks involved through preparatory action as well as to spur recovery through speedy response.

“Risk reduction is the most cost-effective investment we can make for the future,” UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) Director Sálvano Briceño said of the new project launched in cooperation with the World Bank, which is an independent specialized agency of the UN.

Setting up the new Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, the two organizations will work at the regional and global levels to ensure that disaster risk reduction becomes a priority for development investments in countries at risk, increasing their ability to face natural hazards. The World Bank Global Hotspots Study identifies 86 vulnerable countries with risks of high mortality and economic loss.

UN agencies have put disaster risk reduction on the fast track ever since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, when experts said scores of thousands of the more than 200,000 dead could have been saved if early warning systems had existed and allowed them to escape to higher ground in the hours between the earthquake that triggered the giant waves and their landfall.

Through the new facility, the Bank will contribute $5 million annually to ISDR for three years to promote disaster risk reduction at the country level. The Facility will provide expertise and technical assistance to low and middle income countries to mainstream risk reduction in strategic planning, particularly in national poverty reduction strategies and various development policies.

It will support several activities including global reporting on disaster risk reduction trends and on progress in reducing risks, promoting the ISDR global advocacy campaigns on safe schools and disaster reduction practices and the development of a PreventionWeb for related information.

“The World Bank has now prioritized reducing disaster risk by mainstreaming disaster prevention in all its programmes as an integral dimension of its poverty reduction agenda,” the Bank’s Vice President of Sustainable Development Network, Katherine Sierra, said.


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