Geneva - UNISDR chief, Margareta Wahlström, today welcomed the focus on the importance of systematic recording of disaster losses and impacts contained in the 2012 MDG Gap Task Force Report launched by the Secretary-General yesterday.
Ms. Wahlström said: "Access to information is critical to successful disaster risk management. You cannot manage what you cannot measure. The 43 countries which have established and institutionalized national disaster loss data bases are leading the way when it comes to a coherent and targeted response to investment in resilient infrastructure.
"Ultimately, good disaster management makes a strong contribution to poverty reduction by eliminating recurring disaster losses from extensive disaster events such as floods and storms and avoiding interruptions to food supply, health service provision, education and public transport."
The Report entitled "The Global Partnership for Development: Making Rhetoric a Reality" warns that the risk of disasters is increasing in developed and developing countries.
The population living in flood-prone river basins has increased by 114% over the last forty years and on cyclone-exposed coastlines by 192%. More than half the world's largest cities are located in areas of high risk from the occurrence of earthquakes. With growing exposure, the risk of economic loss is increasing.
The report points out: "Further progress in risk reduction will depend on Governments taking decisive steps to explicitly recognize their stock of risk. A crucial first step involves the systematic recording of disaster losses and impacts, and the institutionalization of national disaster inventory systems."
It makes the point that countries collect statistics in areas such as population size, employment and economic activity "but without accurate accounting for disaster losses, such indicators do not form a complete picture."
The report names Indonesia, Mozambique, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Yemen as examples of countries which have established policy-relevant databases.
Mozambique provides detailed information on the areas and types of crops affected and destroyed, and provides farmers with relevant information on the probability of natural hazards and the ways in which they may affect the agricultural sector and rural livelihoods.
Among the policy recommendations in the report is the following: "Governments are encouraged to increase coordination in technology transfer to decrease disaster risk and find synergies with adaptation strategies in developing countries."
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