A joint meeting of the National Disaster Management Committee (NDMC) and various international organizations marking Asean and International Day for Disaster Reduction was help yesterday in Vientiane.
The second Wednesday of October is celebrated annually as Asean Management Day in conjunction with the United Nations International Day for Disaster Reduction with the aim of raising community awareness of the importance of disaster risk and impacts, and preparedness to respond at all levels.
In his remarks to the meeting, NDMC chairman Lieutenant General Duanghay Phichit reminded those present of the year on year increases in natural disasters that are caused by a variety of factors. These include population growth, environmental degradation, climate change and global warming and result in natural disasters across the glove causing loss of human life and property.
The severe earthquake in Haiti and floods in Pakistan in 2010 killed 10,000 people, while there have also been a number of severe natural disasters in 2011 including floods in Australia, the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.“ This shows that developed countries are also severely affected by natural disasters,”Lt Gen Duangchay said.Laos was hit by severe flooding in June and August this year as a result of tropical storms Haima and Nock-Ten, which directly impacted on more than 400,000 people in 12 provinces, killing 30,and damaging homes, agriculture, transport links and other infrastructure with losses estimated at more than 1.7 trillion kip.
Lt Gen Duanchay, who is deputy prime Minister and Minister of national Defense, noted that the government has recognized disaster risk management as an important issue that impacts on national socio-economic development. A national strategy for disaster management has been developed by the NDMC, focusing on creating community awareness of the socio-economic impacts of disasters and the need for impact reduction through relief, recovery, preparedness and response.
This year’s observance of Asean and International Day for disaster Reduction recognizes the vital role of children and young people.
‘Sixty percent of the population of Laos are aged 25 or under. These young people must be included in disaster preparedness plans. Risk reduction education for children including climate change adaption activities are one way to prepare for disaster,” said United nations Children’s Fund Representative and United Nations Resident Representative, Mr Timothy Schaffter.
The global assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction shows the losses caused by disasters in Mexico ,excluding losses in agriculture sector and downstream impacts on poverty, which all governments since 1982 have had to deal with as between US$10 billion and US$20 billion.
United Nations International strategy for Disaster Reduction Programme Officer Mr Julio Cesar Serje said few governments give disaster reduction management a high place on the political agenda and few countries are able to quantify their investments in disaster risk reduction- and those that do invest far less than the losses being incurred.
He added that governments will continue to face huge and growing losses if they don’t decide to invest today for a safer tomorrow.
Ministers, deputy ministers, diplomatic crops members, representatives from international organizations, civil servants, soldiers, policemen, and students attended the meeting.