Satellites can aid in disaster management in Asia-Pacific, UN says

20 March 2008

Satellites can help Asian-Pacific nations better prepare for future disasters, the United Nations arm working to advance economic and social development in the region has noted.

Six of the ten deadliest natural disasters of the past decade have occurred in the Asia-Pacific region, and the UN Economic and Social Commission for the area, known as ESCAP, yesterday kicked off a three-day symposium to discuss how to effectively use information gathered from satellites.

The Regional Symposium on Disaster Management in Bangkok has brought together high-level authorities from 22 countries in the region, which accounted for nearly three-quarters of the some 21,000 natural disaster casualties in 2006. Of the 53 ESCAP members, 8 countries are among the top 10 most impacted in the world.

“Effective disaster management relies greatly on effective information management,” said Shigeru Mochida, ESCAP’s Deputy Executive Secretary, said in his opening address to the meeting.

Given that receiving information in a timely manner is crucial for risk assessment, mitigation planning, monitoring and early warning, as well as for rescue and relief activities, he added that satellites could play a key role.

ESCAP is working with Sentinel Asia, a regional initiative, to share disaster information and to more effectively utilize satellite data for disaster management.

 

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