Natural disasters: half of countries lack preparedness, says UN

Natural disasters: half of countries lack preparedness, says UN


Half of the countries in the world lack preparedness for natural disasters because they lack multi-risk early warning systems that can anticipate several types of disasters, the UN warned on Thursday. 

Developing countries are even worse off even as they find themselves on the frontlines of climate change, according to a new report by two UN agencies, the Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Less than half of least developed countries and only a third of small island developing states have a multi-hazard early warning system.

“The world is not investing in protecting life and livelihoods of people on the front lines. The people who have contributed the least to the climate crisis are those who are paying the highest price,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in the report’s video presentation.

“Entire populations are caught off guard by cascading weather disasters because there are no mechanisms to prevent them,” he added.

Many warning systems fail to cover only one type of natural disaster, such as floods or cyclones, but the UN stresses that it is more urgent than ever to invest in multi-hazard systems.

These systems make it possible, for example, to warn populations against the risk of soil liquefaction following an earthquake or landslide, or to warn of an epidemiological threat following heavy rainfall.

To On the occasion of World Meteorological Day, which was held on March 23, the UN announced that it wanted every person on Earth to be protected within 5 years by a warning system against extreme meteorological phenomena and climate change.

WMO is to present to the upcoming UN COP27 climate conference in November in Egypt an action plan to achieve this ambitious goal.

Save lives and save money

“Extreme weather events are inevitable. But they don't have to turn into deadly disasters,” said Antonio Guterres, calling on countries to invest in early warning systems.

“At the time this report was being prepared, Pakistan was facing its worst climate disaster on record, with nearly 1,700 dead. Despite this carnage, the death toll would have been much higher without early warning systems,” said Mami Mizutori, who heads UNDRR, in a statement.

The report cataloged the country according to whether the coverage in multi-hazard early warning systems is low, moderate, high or complete, with an eightfold increase in the mortality rate in the first two categories.

“The steady increase in greenhouse gas emissions is fueling extreme weather events around the world,” Guterres warned. And “the higher the temperature of the planet, the more the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events will increase”.

The number of disasters has increased fivefold between 1970 and 2019 under the effect climate change and more extreme weather events, according to a previous WMO report.

“This trend is likely to continue,” warned WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.< /p>

“Early warning systems are a proven and effective climate adaptation measure that can save lives and money,” he said.

< p>The report also recommends that warning systems be faster. It also calls for building the capacity of communities at risk to act more quickly, and for investing in improving access to technologies to enhance threat monitoring.