Press Release
November 25, 2010

Legarda Stresses Need for Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy to meet MDGs

The impacts of disasters in various communities in the world have shown the direct link between disaster risk reduction and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), Senator Loren Legarda, the United Nation's Asia-Pacific Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, today said.

"The success of our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals lies in our capability to reduce the risks of disasters in our communities. The World Bank estimates that for every dollar invested in disaster reduction measures saves seven to ten dollars in losses from natural disasters," Legarda said at the start of the three-day consultative meeting for Asian Parliamentarians.

At the conference, Legarda said the disasters that have occurred in recent years have affected the efforts of many Asian nations to attain the MDGs. The Senator cited several instances.

The 1994 drought in Cambodia that caused the destruction of one-fifth of its rice crops, led to 20% reduction in the volume of rice crops produced, which resulted in a reduction in the overall share of its Gross Domestic Product by two percent.

Meanwhile, the Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004 caused an estimated loss of US$ 230 million in the education sector of affected nations.

"Disasters cause damages to housing, service infrastructure, savings, productive assets and human losses. We have to reduce livelihood vulnerability to natural hazards so that we can eradicate income poverty, improve food security, and reduce hunger," Legarda said.

"Damages in education infrastructure and population displacement result to interruptions in schooling. In hazard-prone areas, the case for building schools and encouraging attendance becomes much stronger if buildings are safe and students and teachers are trained in emergency preparedness," she added.

The Senator also noted that women and children are at higher risks of being affected by disasters. When Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar in 2008, approximately 61% of those killed were women. The flooding in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam has claimed the lives of 400 children in 2000 and 300 children in 2001.

"Disaster risk reduction will help protect both women and children. It will help protect women from disproportionate disaster impacts, protect children from direct deaths and injuries during hazard events, and will lower mortality from diseases related to malnutrition, unsafe water and sanitation following disasters," Legarda explained.

"The fact that the Asian Region is struck by more disasters as compared to other regions makes it more challenging for us to achieve the MDGs by 2015. This is why we have to put much effort in our disaster risk reduction programs and climate change adaptation strategies. As a legislator in the Philippine Senate, I am advocating for the allocation of at least one percent of the national budget for disaster risk reduction. It's about time we substantially reduce risks through our development initiatives," Legarda concluded.

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