Sunday, 10 February 2019 15:26

Natural Disasters: The Challenge of Saving Lives

Written by Yanet Llanes Alemán
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Natural Disasters: The Challenge of Saving Lives Photo: Around the World in English

The death of over 10 thousand persons and the damages caused to 62 million by extreme meteorological events in 2018, imposed on governments the challenge of introducing effective policies of prevention and mitigation.


The number of deaths was the sixth lowest in this century, far from the average of 77 thousand deaths, result of the non-existing catastrophes of enormous proportions, according to the United Nations Office for the Reduction of Risks due to Disasters (Unisdr).

Nevertheless, the figure was larger than the 8,500 victims in 2016 and the 9,700 of the following year, according to the yearly report of that organism that also registered the affected persons, be due to wounds, left homeless or displaced.

That indicates, once more, that if we want to reduce the losses in catastrophes we should improve the mannerin which we manage risk of disasters, said the high representative of the Unisdr, Mami Mizutori.

Time is running out to limit global warming to 1.5 or two degrees Celsius. We have to be equally active in adapting to climate change, he stressed.

For the official, that means to prevent creating new risks through a better use of the land, more strict planning regulations and codes of construction

She also called to safeguard the ecosystems of protection, reduce poverty and take active measures to reduce the risk of higher sea level.

The Center of Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), registered last year 281 extreme natural events, and among the most deadly are those related with seismic activities (earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes), according to the Unisdr.

According to the analysis of those phenomena, the worst disaster was an earthquake and later tsunami in Celebes, one of the islands belonging to Indonesia, country most hit by those events (4,417 deaths).

While the eruption of the volcano of Fire in Guatemala last June, with 425 deaths, headed the list in Latin America, region that could suffer this year the impact of meteorological event El Niño, according to the source.

Storms caused the greatest material damages, mainly for their effect on North America by hurricanes Florence (14 billion dollars) and Michael (16 billion dollars) or the Jebi typhoon in Asia (12.5 billion dollars) although the source said there are still data not included.

Economic damages increased 151 percent over the last two decades, according to the Unisdr report.

Titled 'Economic losses, poverty and disasters 1998-2017', the report highlights the higher frequency of natural disasters, the impact of those phenomena in the economy, especially in the poorest nations.


For the expert Debarati Guha, of CRED, the meteorological events can be predicted most exactly, now the responsibility is for the governments of those countries to alert the people.

A study published in Nature Climate Change magazine says that for the year 2100 in some tropical regions like the Atlantic Coast and the center and south America coulsd be hit at the same time by at least six crisis.

The main challenge is to save lives. To that must be added the reduction of people affected, as well as the interruption of basic services. There is also pending the increase of countries that have a risk disaster reduction strategy, improve international cooperation for the developing nations ands increase the availability of early warning systems, global objectives of the Sendai Framework for the Disasters Risk Reduction (2015-2030). (PL)

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