The WorldRiskReport 2012 ranked the Philippines as the third most disaster-risk country in the world. The report, which focused on “Environmental Degradation and Disasters,” was released last October 11 in Brussels.
In its risk index, the report identified 15 most disaster-risk countries: (1) Vanuatu, (2) Tonga, (3) Philippines, (4) Guatemala, (5) Bangladesh, (6) Solomon Islands, (7) Costa Rica, (8) Cambodia, (9) Timor-Leste, (10) El Salvador, (11) Brunei Darussalam, (12) Papua New Guinea, (13) Mauritius, (14) Nicaragua, and (15) Fiji.
Said report emphasized that eight of these listed countries, including the Philippines, are island states. As such, they are more “exposed to the natural hazards of cyclones, flooding, and sea level rise” because of their proximity to the sea.
But not only is proximity to the sea a factor to being disaster-prone. Peter Mucke, director of Alliance Development Works, shared that environmental destruction directly threatens people and societies nowadays. “The New World Risk Report gives us a vivid picture of how environmental destruction on a global scale is increasingly becoming a direct threat to human beings as well. Where slopes have been deforested, where protective reefs, mangroves and wetlands have degenerated or even completely disappeared, the forces of nature with far higher impact force on inhabited areas,” he said in a statement.
The report also pointed out that there is a connection between disasters and development progress. It explained, “disasters prevent development progress,” so a “lack of development progress raises the disaster risk.”
Further, problems that remain unresolved in both the local and global levels and that are related to poverty, scarce resources, and weak governance even more increase the “susceptibility of societies to natural hazards as well as the lack of coping and adaptive capacities,” the report added.
And other studies seem to support such findings.
The United Nations (UN) once reported in its website that poverty can affect significantly the depth or gravity of human suffering brought about by natural crises. UN said: “The human suffering caused by emergencies and natural disasters is most profoundly felt in developing countries, particularly poverty-stricken nations that lack the resources to cope with the aftermath of famine, floods and earthquakes.”
Further researches also showed that most of the countries, which include the Philippines, in the disaster-risk list remain to be poverty-stricken and are considered to be third-world countries.
To this, the WorldRiskReport suggested that strategies for disaster risk reduction should be an “integral part of comprehensive sustainable development strategies.” Although being highly exposed to these natural hazards is a risk driver for a country, a society with high development level can neutralize this considerably, the report said.
The report also showed that over a million people ended up as victims of 4,130 recorded disasters worldwide. The economic damages, meanwhile, reached at least USD1.195 billion. The report was presented by the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security, the Alliance Development Works / Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft as publisher, and The Nature Conservancy.