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Indonesian schools and hospitals join UN initiative to promote disaster risk reduction

Indonesian schools and hospitals join UN initiative to promote disaster risk reduction

The main hospital in Padang, Indonesia, was severely damaged by the 2009 earthquake
Thousands of Indonesian schools and hospitals have signed up to a United Nations campaign to encourage authorities to better protect such structures in vulnerable areas from the impact of future natural disasters.

The campaign, launched last year at the UN-backed Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, commits participants to either take disaster risk reduction measures, better prepare for potential disasters or raise public awareness about the issue.

The initiative has a goal of halving the number of lives lost to disasters by 2015. Last year an estimated 236,000 people were killed as a result of disasters, and damages exceeded $180 billion, while 2010 has already witnessed earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, floods in Pakistan, landslides in China, wildfires in Russia among others.

The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) reported yesterday that more than 13,500 schools and 100 hospitals in Indonesia have joined the initiative since it was launched in the South-East Asian nation late last month.

Indonesia is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters, and has experienced the devastating effects of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and numerous earthquakes.

German Velasquez, ISDR’s senior coordinator for the Asia-Pacific region, told the UN news Centre today that Indonesia is moving ahead of the international curve in taking steps to try to better protect such key buildings as schools and hospitals from future disasters.

“What we are seeing is interest and concern not just from the government, but from a whole range of national actors… including the media, civil society, universities and the private sector,” he said.

“Indonesia is also quite unique in that local and provincial governments are getting involved, and not just the national government. We can see change coming. This is very encouraging.”