Press Release
July 3, 2008

Loren cites annual P15-B losses from natural disasters

Senator Loren Legardacited today the need for government to fund and put in place disaster-mitigation measures to minimize human and economic losses caused by natural disasters and calamities like typhoons.

"The Philippines sits within the typhoon and earthquake belt of Southeast Asia, thus the importance of us being ready to face calamitous events, including floods and landslides, so as to minimize their adverse impact," she said.

Legarda added that it is necessary to mainstream disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation into the country's development policies, structures, programs and budget.

"Even in our growth projections, we must factor in the effects of natural disasters," she said, citing the significant increase in human and economic losses arising from such events.

She lamented the many lives and properties that had been lost recently due to typhoon Frank.

The senator pointed out that between 1970 and 2000, the Philippines incurred annual direct damage of P15 billion as a direct consequence of natural disasters, representing 0.7 percent of the country's gross domestic product each year.

Such losses, as determined by a study conducted by the World Bank, can be moderated if the country invests in disaster and climate risk vulnerability assessment and prevention.

"An example of this would be knowing beforehand where floodwater are most likely to flow in the event of excessive rainfall, so that vulnerable communities can be better situated, ditto with agricultural lands," Legarda said.

"This way, we can minimize loss of lives and agricultural produce, instead of the present situation of our people scurrying for safety and tons and tons of produce being lost whenever typhoons hit our country."

Legarda said a World Bank study stated that it is more cost-effective for developing countriesto invest in disaster risk prevention, and that for every dollar spent in prevention, there is a corresponding savings of seven dollars.

Poverty and social pressures make people more vulnerable to natural disasters, said Legarda, pointing out that the poor are forced to live in dangerous locations and on unsafe, easily-destroyed dwellings such as shanties on creeks and hills.

The senator explained that developing countries like the Philippines can improve their abilities to absorb the cost of natural disasters if they would incorporate updated economic analysis of frequently occurring catastrophes.

"Focused attention on disaster planning is an important pillar of economic growth and poverty reduction," Legarda said.

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