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33 disasters in the PHL in 2011, the highest worldwide - CRED

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LOS BANOS, Laguna – At least 33 natural disasters struck the Philippines in 2011, the highest number registered among all countries worldwide, a non-government organization on Tuesday said.

The Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) said if disasters caused by people such as armed conflicts and fires are included, the total number of disasters that hit the country last year, will reach 431.

CRED’s Citizens’ Disaster Response Center (CDRC) deputy executive director Carlos Padolina said a total of 302 natural disasters happened worldwide in 2011.

Padolina said natural and human-induced disasters affected more than three million families or 15.3 million people worldwide, and caused over P26 billion in economic losses last year.

CRED is the collaboration center of the World Health Organization (WHO), which has been active for over 30 years in the fields of international disaster and conflict health studies, with research and training activities linking relief, rehabilitation and development. CRED promotes research, training and technical expertise on humanitarian emergencies, with a special focus on public health and epidemiology.

The Center undertakes research and provides an evidence base on the burden of disease and health issues arising from disasters and conflicts to improve needs-based preparedness and responses to humanitarian emergencies.

According to Padolina, the Philippines' ranking did not come as a surprise because Tropical Storm Sendong (Washi), one of the worst disasters to hit the country, happened late last year.

In terms of casualties, the Philippines came second to Japan with 1,924 people killed. More than 1,400 died in the country because of tropical storm Sendong, he said.

"The challenge for us now is to reduce the impact of disasters on our lives. No matter how frequent these calamities might occur, as long as we are prepared, we can bounce right back," Padolina said.

He said CRED, which has been assisting various countries worldwide for over three decades now, remains steadfast in extending its services since its research focuses on humanitarian and emergency situations with major impacts on human health. This includes all types of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, windstorms, famines and droughts; and man-made disasters creating mass displacement of people from civil strife and conflicts.

CRED also undertakes research in the broader aspects of humanitarian crises such as human rights and humanitarian law, socio-economic and environmental issues, early warning systems, the special needs of women and children and mental health care, Padolina said.

He said CRED has a long history of standardized data compilation, validation and analysis. It provides free and open access to its data through its website. One of CRED's core data products is the EM-DAT disaster database.

EM-DAT contains worldwide data on the occurrence and impact of natural disasters from 1900 to the present. The database is free and fully searchable through the website, also allowing users to download available data.

The EM-DAT provides an objective basis for vulnerability assessments and rational decision-making in disaster situations. For example, it helps policymakers identify disaster types that are the most common in a given country and have had significant historical impacts on specific human populations. Where resources are limited, these choices can be critical in saving human lives and property through customized disaster planning adapted to account for local vulnerabilities.

In addition to providing information on the human impact of disasters, such as the number of people killed, injured or affected, EM-DAT provides disaster-related economic damage estimates and disaster-specific international aid contributions, Padolina stressed.

by: PNA




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