· New report highlights human cost of climate change and impact on cash-strapped aid budgets
· October 1 debate on issues at Labour conference, featuring Shadow Minister Rushanara Ali
· Video news release and photographs from Bangladesh and Kenya available for media use
· Disaster expert, report author and Islamic Relief’s UK Director available for interview
A new report from Islamic Relief to be published on October 1 says that while climate-related disasters are becoming more frequent and severe, a huge imbalance in disaster spending is costing lives and squandering scarce aid budgets. Feeling the Heat says providing protection against increasing droughts and floods is more effective and much less costly than waiting to act until disaster strikes – yet the world spends 23 times as much on emergency relief for the most disaster-prone countries as it spends on disaster risk reduction.
“We need to give poor countries a fighting chance against climate change by investing in things like drought-resistant crops, rebuilding flood-prone houses on higher ground and preserving food and seeds for when disaster strikes,” says Shahnawaz Ali, Head of Climate Change and Disaster Resilience for Islamic Relief Bangladesh. “If we do that we will not only save lives but save a lot of money on emergency aid.”
Feeling the Heat challenges the UN, governments and aid agencies to completely rethink their priorities and put disaster risk reduction at the heart of all aid programmes. The report is being launched in the UK with fringe events on October 1 and 9 at the Labour and Conservative party conferences respectively, featuring first Shadow International Development Minister Rushanara Ali and then a Coalition Government representative in debate with Islamic Relief’s Shahnawaz Ali and Craig Bennett, Policy and Campaigns Director of Friends of the Earth.
The 44-page report – which was researched in association with nef (the new economics foundation) and includes positive examples from Islamic Relief projects in Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan and Mali – says that:
· The number of climate-related disasters increased by an average of 4% a year from 1980 to 2010
· In 2011 alone such disasters killed 27,000 people and cost $380 billion in economic losses. Their financial cost is doubling every 12 years
· The richest countries suffer the highest incidence of natural disasters but only account for 7% of the death toll. Sixty-nine people died in the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, compared to 316,000 in a quake of similar intensity in Haiti in 2010
· A dollar of spending on disaster risk reduction projects can deliver $15 worth of reduced disaster damage, according to US government research
· In 2010 the world spent 23 times as much on emergency relief for the ten developing countries hit hardest by disasters as it spent on disaster prevention and preparedness
· The five countries worst affected by this year’s Sahel food crisis received just 12 pence for DRR in every £100 of aid received from 2005 to 2010
· It costs £400 for Islamic Relief to protect a family in the Gaibanda district of Bangladesh from floods for five years by raising their land, less than the £440 in emergency aid the same family would need in just one month if they lost everything in a major flood
· It costs £19 a month to prevent malnutrition by providing a family in Mandera, Kenya, with the seeds and diesel needed to irrigate and cultivate an acre of land. This is barely half the £34 it costs to provide food aid alone to the same family once malnutrition sets in.
“The dreadful floods that that have hit many parts of Britain in the past few days are a reminder of how climate change is changing weather patterns across the world,” says Jehangir Malik, Islamic Relief’s UK Director. “Globally it is the very poorest people who suffer most because they have the flimsiest of houses and the least resources to fall back on.
“Islamic Relief believes it is vital in these challenging times that the UK keeps its promises on aid funding, and we would like to see the Government in the forefront of pressing for a global contingency fund for disaster risk reduction to be established. We also urge the UN and governments to come up with a bold and binding international agreement to protect poor communities better when the voluntary and rather toothless Hyogo Framework for Action expires in 2015. The UK Government is doing some excellent work in disaster risk reduction and it could lead the world in delivering a stronger collective effort that saves lives and saves money.”
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