A recent report by the UN, “The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters” states that 90% of disasters which happened over the last two decades are weather-related. They have caused death of 606,000 people and left over 4.1 billion people homeless or in need of emergency assistance. The economic cost of weather related disasters is estimated at US$ 250 billion according to the UNISDR study of nationally-reported disaster losses. The study urges UN agencies, NGOs and partners to collaborate with governments to establish robust and well-maintained national disaster loss databases to improve record-keeping and accountability.
“The more we understand the causes and consequences of risk generation and accumulation, the better we will be able to adapt, mitigate and prevent in the future, whatever that future may have in store for us,” - Margareta Wahlstrom, Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction
Floods are becoming increasingly frequent and account for almost half of all weather-related disasters, affecting 2.3 billion people, majority of which (95%) live in Asia.
Over the last week Indonesia has experienced continuous rain resulting in flooding of several areas of Jakarta and 20,000 people being evacuated.
“Jakarta is a city prone to flooding, as thirteen major rivers flow through the capital,” - Bambang Surya Putra, the Jakarta Disaster Management Agency
Every year predictions of monsoon season floods become reality for a city of 14 million people. Jakarta’s vulnerability to floods exposes the country's poor infrastructure despite significant economic growth in recent years. Old infrastructure and waterways, flood canals and retention basins that are poorly maintained and burdened with rubbish weaken Jakarta’s capacity to mitigate and manage floods.
The Jakarta Urgent Flood Management Project (JUFMP), implemented by The World Bank in collaboration with local government, aims to mitigate floods by rehabilitating vital floodways that are part of Jakarta's flood management system.
“Dredging and strengthening embankments are very important because it will improve the capacity for water flow. This will reduce the risk of overtopping water, which could damage assets along the rivers,” - Iwan Gunawan, World Bank Senior Disaster Risk Specialist.
Disaster Management Agency, supported by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, contributed to improved coordination systems to ensure necessary resources are readily available. Jakarta deploys dedicated personnel to provide fast response to flood-related risks, while Indonesia's army used rubber boats to rescue people trapped in floods.
"Flood management systems need to be designed so that even if they are overwhelmed by flood waters, the failure is not catastrophic. UNISDR emphasizes the need for early warning systems, reduction of social vulnerability through land use planning and leadership at local government level" - Margareta Wahlstrom, UNISDR
Natural disasters highlight ever greater need for UN agencies, NGOs and governments to work together with the solution providers. While each play a vital role on their own, improving the living environment and supporting human development is a shared goal. Therefore communication and coordination of efforts between stakeholders is necessary in order to address the challenges of natural disasters. Empowering local communities and educating residents about the importance of trash management and community-led rescue efforts are best achieved in union with local authorities and NGOs, while flood mitigation and management require input of external partners, who can contribute innovative approaches and technologies to address technical problems of natural disasters.
Image source: VOA