Breaking news: Vanuatu named number one country, for the second year running…

…as the country facing the greatest risk of natural disaster, says the United Nations’ University’s 2012 World Risk Report.

Radio Australia reports on the latest UN University report, which considers both the potential power of natural disasters together with socio-economic risk.

We should all take this very seriously. But on the positive side, the report found that community self-sufficiency on remote islands is a huge advantage for disaster risk reduction efforts.

Key quote from the Radio Australia story:

“…The role of women in protecting and rebuilding their communities often goes unrecognised, and so the theme of this year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction — ‘Invisible Force of Resilience’ — is intended to highlight how women’s ability to contribute is sometimes hindered by lack of inclusion in public life.

Women and girls are up to 14 times more likely to die during a disaster and that’s often purely the result of inadequate access to education and awareness messages… it’s very important to try and change that.”

Get the full report here.

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2 Comments on “Breaking news: Vanuatu named number one country, for the second year running…”

  1. Carlos says:

    It is important to remember that these evaluations are often based on criteria which inevitably have a tendency to shock, given the current obsession with risk-free environments. The truth is that self-sufficiency, resilience and adaptation are quite robust in the outer islands of Vanuatu. And natural phenomena are only disasters when they become destructive to human life and health. How many hurricanes sweep over Vanuatu per year? what are the consequences? How many sweep over the hyperdeveloped Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the US? and what are the consequences? The report is serious and contains relevant points, but it lends itself to dramatic headlines that are not always terribly accurate.

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    • Carlos, a shock is just what Vanuatu needs. By any measure, Vanuatu is woefully under-prepared for a major natural disaster. Disaster risk reduction is not about creating risk-free environments, it is about harm minimisation. The most at-risk populations are the densest populations, and these aren’t in the outer islands, as I’m sure you’re aware. I don’t see anything inaccurate or sensationalist in this report, nor in the reporting of it. These are facts, albeit unpleasant, that we need to grasp and deal with. Vanuatu is rapidly urbanising, settlements are expanding in low-lying areas and certain natural phenomena are predicted to increase in our region. Fetishising the adaptation strategies of remote communities will only help so much. We need more, much more, and on a national scale.

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