The Philippines is the most disaster-prone country among 193 in the world based on its exposure and vulnerability to natural disasters, a study conducted by two German institutions said.
The World Risk Index, released by Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft (The Alliance Development Works) and the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV) at Ruhr University Bochum, said the Philippines is facing the greatest disaster risk among the countries it rated.
The Philippines has an index score 46.82, followed by India (42.31), Indonesia (41.46) and Colombia (38.37).
Mexico, Myanmar, Mozambique, China, Bangladesh, and Pakistan round up the top 10 countries most at risk of disasters.
The University of Stuttgart’s Prof. Dr. Jörn Birkmann, director of the Institute of Spatial and Regional Planning, and Dr. Torsten Welle, developed the index that evaluates the exposure to natural hazards faced by countries and assesses the inherent vulnerability in the countries towards suffering from impacts when facing these hazards.
“In line with previous results, this year’s World Risk Index shows that global disaster risks are very heterogeneously distributed and strongly linked to aspects of poverty and inequality. Nevertheless, the new model results show clear differences from previous findings,” the report said.
Dr. Mahar Lagmay, University of the Philippines Resilience Institute Executive Director, said the country is at huge risk of disasters because it is in the typhoon belt of Asia.
“When there’s severe weather event like that, it carries along with it hazards. These hazards are namely the strong winds, the floods that are triggered, the landslides that are triggered by extreme rainfall events carried by the typhoon, as well as storm surges. These hazards are the ones that kill,” Lagmay explained.
Going forward, Lagmay said the government should focus more on preventing the ill effects of natural disasters, noting the four pillars in disaster prevention and risk reduction.
“One is the long-term, preparations, this is called prevention and mitigation, the other is just before the hazard strikes, which is preparedness. And then during the time when the hazard strikes, that’s called response, and then afterwards, it’s called reconstruction and rehabilitation,” he said.
“We should really shift from doing more work on response to the long-term preparations planning,” the expert said, recommending that the country’s planning “should incorporate climate change-adjusted hazards.”
“These are the hazards that would happen because of the changing climate, because of global warming, that means that the typhoons will become stronger, carrying stronger winds, carrying bigger floods, triggering more frequent and more widespread landslides, and bigger storm surges,” he said.
Survivors of natural disasters in the country tend to say that storms that have been hitting the country are worse than the last ones that affected them, Lagmay noted.
“We must anticipate the future events. And to do that, we need science. We need to reflect in our hazard maps which are mainstreamed into the planning process of the communities, the comprehensive land use plans, the local climate change adaptation plans, the climate, and disaster risk assessments,” he said.
If incorporated, the people in the community will be able to realize there is “such a type of hazard that is bigger than what they know or what they have experienced. And if we do that, they can anticipate.”
Disaster preparedness if important if the country wants to meet its development goals, Lagmay noted.
“We are all at risk from something, and that something might translate to fatalities, to deaths, it translates also to hampering our development, our economic progress. It translates to eating up our GDP,” he said.
“Like for example in the span of 10 years, the average of about 3 percent is taken out from our GDP because of disasters. The impacts of hazards. Now, that is a concern because if it hampers our development, then we will not achieve our Sustainable Development Goals,” the expert added.