Natural disasters have been historically one of the greatest challenges against development of human societies. Today, natural or human-caused disasters are still among the serious threats to societies’ socio-economic and political development around the world. Floods, storms, epidemics, earthquakes, droughts, and many more disasters frequently interrupt and distort the lives of many around the world, in many instances taking lives, ruining investments, and forcing major relocations. During 1970-2012, the number of natural disasters around the world significantly increased. However, the OIC countries experienced a steeper trend in the occurrence of natural disasters during the last four decades, increasing from around 199 incidences in the 1970s to 1,431 incidences in the 2000-2012 with a rate of increase significantly higher than that of the world. The number of natural disasters per year increased from 13 in 1970 to a record high of 135 in 2000. The cost of damages also substantially increased in the OIC countries from US$3 billion in the 1970s to a record high of US$67 billion in the 1990s, and to US$65 billion during 2000-2012.
The rising costs of natural hazards disproportionately affect the poor and vulnerable in the OIC countries as well as other developing countries. Natural disasters may have an enormous impact on social and economic welfare of affected countries. This impact is especially severe in low and middle-income countries, where governments often have inadequate resources to restore critical infrastructure and provide assistance to the affected people and private sector to recover their assets. If a state lacks resources to support its citizens, the vulnerable segments of the society will further suffer from disasters in terms of heightened poverty through loss of assets and income generating opportunities.
While different OIC countries suffer from different types of natural hazards, with various frequencies and magnitudes, as well as political and social conflicts, it is in fact their vulnerability to risks, or the lack of conditions and capacities for properly managing and reducing the risk of disasters which exacerbate the impacts of these disasters. In the OIC countries, almost 100% of natural disasters and their impacts (fatal, non-fatal, and financial) during 1960-2010 took place in countries that are also identified as countries with low capacities for risk reduction. There is clearly no doubt of the real need for cooperation among all OIC countries and other partners to offer assistance to the people and governments in these countries to reduce their vulnerability to disasters.
Given the impact of disasters on highly exposed developing counties, as well as on intermediary institutions that serve the poor, investments in response mechanisms and capacities are quite important. However, effective risk management of disasters requires, and involves, more than just an emergency response mechanism. Reducing the risk of disasters requires viewing disasters as major barriers to sustainable socio-economic development, and managing the risks through investing in and enhancing the capacities for preserving the environment and ecosystems, eradicating poverty and inequality, appropriate rural and urban development, and improving the quality of governance, all of which contribute to the existing vulnerabilities. The risk of disasters as barriers to sustainable development necessitates the inclusion of a disaster risk management strategy as an indispensable and integral part of the overall development strategy.
In this connection, the 27th Session of COMCEC adopted a resolution which requested the IDB and the SESRIC to cooperate for devising an effective engagement strategy with the most vulnerable people in crisis-laden and disaster-prone Member States. In accordance with this resolution, SESRIC, together with IDB and UNDP, prepared a comprehensive study on natural and man-made disaster risk management for OIC countries. This study mainly evaluates the risks and vulnerabilities of OIC member countries with respect to natural disasters and man-made crises with the aim of providing advice to decision makers on how to improve their resilience to these disasters.
In this context, IDB and SESRIC will organize a seminar on “Delivery Mechanisms for Disaster Risk Management” on June 25 that will bring together experts from various international organizations, including World Bank, UNDP, UNISDR, UN-OCHA, UNESCO and UN-Habitat, as well as various national institutions from member countries, academicians and NGOs, and discuss the draft report prepared by IDB and SESRIC. The seminar will also discuss main priority areas, implementation mechanisms and financing approaches for disaster management.
Programme of the seminar (English)