Bracing for Natural Disasters

Manila Bulletin, January 22, 2011 | Go to article overview

Bracing for Natural Disasters


MANILA, Philippines - According to the United Nations, 2010 saw the largest number of people devastated by flooding. This year, barely a month into 2011, massive flooding in Australia, Sri Lanka, and Brazil left tens of thousands homeless.In a constantly turbulent and crowding planet, we can expect to see global disasters of unprecedented magnitude and impact. These disasters, both natural and man-made, threaten to wipe out decades of development efforts and sink millions of people in deeper poverty and hunger.One of the most crucial lessons learned from other countries' experiences is the importance of early response. Providing effective, early response during a disaster spells the difference between life and death.After recent floods and landslides that killed more than 750 people in mountain towns north of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has set about to create a nationwide disaster-prevention and early-warning system. The Brazilian government will also invest $6.7 billion in water-drainage and hillside-recovery projects across the country to prevent future flooding and slides.Our country, by virtue of geography, is prone to natural disasters like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and seasonal weather disturbances like typhoons. With extreme weather becoming the norm and with bigger, more destructive storms expected in the coming years, we should take a proactive stance in disaster risk management and response. …

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