KATHMANDU, Oct 31: The widespread monsoon floods and landslides that hit South Asia this year highlight, yet again, the need for the sub region to be at the forefront of building resilience to disasters.
This is stated in the sub-regional report prepared by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP) and made public amidst a news conference here on Tuesday.
The report states that the Asia-Pacific region is at high risk of disasters such as earthquake, tsunami, typhoons, drought, flood and landslide, snowstorm, avalanche and monsoon.
Likewise, the report shows that 26 cities in the sub-region are vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters.
Chief of ESCAP's disaster reduction department, Sanjaya Sribastav, reading out from the report in the news conference, maintained Kathmandu, New Delhi, Dhaka and Karachi as highly vulnerable cities to disasters.
The report states that Asia-Pacific, as the world’s most disaster-prone region, has shouldered the burden of more than 2 million lives lost with economic damage of approximately $1.3 trillion between 1970 and 2016.
The region also accounts for over half of the world’s absolute poor living under the international poverty line of $1.90 per day, largely from South Asia. Thus, the ability of South Asia to reduce impacts from and build resilience to disasters for its most vulnerable populations will have important implications on achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the report points out.
The countries of Asia and the Pacific agreed on a regional road map for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the 4th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development in 2017. The road map identifies priority areas of regional cooperation for the means of implementation and partnerships, as well as six thematic areas including disaster risk reduction and resilience that correspond to major challenges still faced particularly in South Asia.
The Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2017 highlights that developmental response to these natural disaster risks inevitably must take on board subregional specificities of shared vulnerabilities and disaster risk. Countries in South and South-West Asia are exposed to floods, drought, tropical cyclones and high seismic risks with the inherent critical vulnerability embedded in widespread poverty, hunger and food insecurity. Therefore, risk-sensitive sustainable development strategies need to be highly contextualised to the specific disaster risks facing the subregion. Better understanding of the subregional specificity would facilitate cooperation among countries and enhance the capacity of member States, particularly least developed countries and land-locked developing countries to implement risk-sensitive sustainable development strategies, monitor the progress, and report their results towards pursuing the SDGs.
In this regard, ESCAP organizes a training workshop with expert group discussions on Addressing Disaster Risks Specific to South and South-West Asia from 30 to 31 October in Kathmandu, with its partners including the SAARC Disaster Management Centre (SDMC), Regional Integrated Multi-hazard Early Warning System (RIMES) and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC).
The report suggests exchange of oceanographic and atmospheric data and information among Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, Myanmar and India for preparedness and disaster risk reduction.