Phl 3rd in World Risk Index, Qatar most risk free

DOHA, Qatar (MindaNews/15 Sept) – The wealthy Arabian Gulf country is the safest in terms of disasters, according to the World Risk Report 2011 released this week.

Making the top three most disaster prone countries are the south Pacific island countries of Vanuatu and Tonga and the southeast Asian country Philippines.

As this developed, the Philippine Senate had passed early this week on third and final reading a proposed legislation that would establish a People’s Survival Fund (PSF) to support Philippine communities in developing climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction projects.

Countries with the lowest risk index Qatar, Malta and Saudi Arabia, which are in the bottom of the list, are not prone to typhoons, tsunamis and earthquakes.

Oil and gas rich Qatar is currently the richest country in terms of per capita income. A country of about 1.7 million people, Qatar has demonstrated to be one of the most stable countries in the Middle East and North Africa, which has been swept by the Arab Spring this year.

Asian and Latin American countries like the Philippines, Bangladesh, Timor Leste, Cambodia, Guatemala, Costa Rica and El Salvador scored highly in the risk index, along with Pacific island countries of Vanuatu, Tonga and Solomon Islands.

Japan, Chile and the Netherlands, although landing in the top 15 in terms of risk exposure, have not scored very high in the World Risk Index owing to the high coping and adaptive capacities of these countries.

“However, the examples of Japan, Chile and the Netherlands, all belonging to the 15 countries with highest exposure, show that good disaster preparedness in view of the development of coping and adaptive capacities can significantly reduce the disaster risk,” cited the report.

The report noted that state failure is a major risk factor. “Whether natural events turn into disasters depends critically on the coping and adaptive capacity of governments,” the report said.

Weak governance, according to the report, is an important risk factor that directly correlates to disaster impacts like number of deaths. “States with strong institutions have fewer deaths after extreme natural events than those with weak or inexistent institutions,” the report further noted.

The proposed law establishing the PSF will appropriate at least P1 billion from the annual General Appropriations Act.

“This fund shall be used to support local governments’ adaptation activities, such as in the areas of land and water resources management, agriculture and fisheries, health, infrastructure development, and natural ecosystems,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Loren Legarda.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile is also one of the original sponsors of the PSF bill.

A counterpart bill in the House of Representatives, HB 3528 principally sponsored by Deputy House Speaker Erin Tanada III, already passed second reading.

The World Risk Report published by the German Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft (Alliance Development Works) ranked 173 countries based on their exposure, susceptibility, coping capacities and adaptive capacities to disasters.

The World Risk Index came up with their result by primarily looking at the following:

– How likely is an extreme natural event and will it affect people?

– How vulnerable are people to natural hazards?

– To what extent are societies able to cope with severe and immediate disasters?

– Does society take precautionary measures against anticipated future natural hazards?

(By BenCyrus G. Ellorin / MindaNews)