EDITORIAL - Most at risk to disasters

The Philippine Star

From first-hand experience, Filipinos are aware that the country is prone to disasters. Not a year passes without multiple typhoons, torrential monsoon rains, cataclysmic flooding, drought, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes hitting the country. Crop harvests are heavily affected by the whimsies of nature.

The country has consistently ranked among the world’s most vulnerable to disasters. In the latest World Risk Report, however, whose amended metrics include the capacity of affected communities to cope with natural hazards, the Philippines is now ranked at the top of the list.

Among 193 countries, the Philippines garnered the worst index score of 46.82 in terms of high risk, exposure and vulnerability to disasters and calamities, according to the World Risk Report 2022 drawn up by Germany-based Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft and the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict at Ruhr University Bochum.

While there are other countries such as Japan along the Pacific Ring of Fire that are prone to typhoons, powerful earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, their disaster preparedness and mitigation capabilities lower their vulnerability risk.

India came second to the Philippines with a score of 42.31 in the World Risk Index 2022, followed by Indonesia with 41.46, Colombia, Mexico, Myanmar, Mozambique, China, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Explaining the revised metrics in the latest index, the report said the risk assessment is now based not only on how severely natural hazards hit a particular area but also on how vulnerable society is to the effects of the disaster. The findings are meant to encourage responses that are proactive rather than reactive.

The index, the report explained, “aims to raise awareness about the relevance of social capacities in disaster preparedness among the public and decision-makers in all sectors of society, to provide guidance for practitioners in the prevention of humanitarian crises, and to support decisions in the allocation and prioritization of resources.”

In the first year of the COVID pandemic in 2020, the Philippines ranked ninth in the World Risk Index with a score of 20.69. Last year, the country worsened to eighth place with a score of 21.39. This year, with the risk indicators widened to 100 from the previous 27, the country has emerged as the most at risk to the impacts of natural hazards. The indicators include impacts on displaced persons as well as social, economic and political conditions that affect responses to disasters.

Last Wednesday, President Marcos vowed that climate change resiliency and adaptation “are on top of the national agenda,” with the responses of his administration to be smarter, more sustainable and responsible. The World Risk Report should further strengthen this resolve.


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