Editorial: Understanding vulnerability-A A +A
Monday, March 11, 2013
SEVERAL times we encounter the word vulnerability and see only poor women and children; secure in our belief that we are better off, have work, and a few connections to tide us over.
But when the world says 2012 was the least deadly for natural disasters in the last ten years, we suddenly realize how very vulnerable of us are.
Risk analysis company Maplecroft in its Natural Hazards Risk Atlas said, “Over 2012, fatalities from natural hazards stood at 9% of the yearly average of 106,000 from the previous decade, while recorded natural disasters also saw a significant fall to 251 events, constituting a 65% drop on the 10 year average of 380.” Thus, the conclusion that 2012 was indeed the least deadly in the past decade.
We can only whimper and ask, “What about Pablo?”
Maplecroft has not closed its eyes on this and pointed out that the reason that 2012 is the least deadly is that the major events of that year hit the more resilient countries, like Superstrom Sandy in the United States, which despite its strength and size killed only 110 people. This is attributed to US’s highly sophisticated response and well developed infrastructure and communications network.
That’s not so in the Philippines with typhoon Pablo where over 1,500 were killed; this despite the fact that Pablo rampaged through suburban and rural areas, sparing densely populated metropolises, and thus fewer people were exposed to it.
In the Socio-economic Resilience Index of the atlas, the Philippines is ranked 65th in terms of its socio-economic resilience to natural disasters, classifying it as high risk. The US, on the other hand, is ranked 169th, a low risk.
“In spite of economic growth of over 5% in each of the last four years, better disaster resilience has not materialized and the country’s ranking in the index has not improved,” the Maplecroft report on the contents of the atlas reads with regards the Philippines.
Adapation measures to climate change should always consider resilience and risks. Thus, today’s elected officials who will be tasked to tackle all these should look beyond just stocking up on sardines and noodles and truly look at every community’s vulnerabilities so as to build resilience from these and ensure sustainability.
The ongoing sufferings wrought by Pablo are showing us the devastating consequences of natural hazards on food security. No matter how the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) tries to mask it with press releases and advertisements, the fact remains that people are still suffering. No one wants to keep on eating canned goods for more than a week, much more a quarter of a year. And a government that refuses to heed the shouts of the people is only inviting social unrest and it can just get worse.
“In Maplecroft’s Natural Hazard Risk - Absolute Economic Exposure Index, which assesses the proportion of a country's non-agricultural economy exposed to natural hazard risks. In this index, China (3) and the Philippines (4) are rated ‘extreme risk,’ while India (4th) and Indonesia (7th) feature in the ‘high risk’ category,” the report reads. “This ranking reflects that these countries have the most globally significant concentrations of economic assets exposed to major natural hazards.”
We don’t even have to have another Pablo to make us realize this. all we need to do is to really look at how the people are suffering now, how many children are forced to drop out of school, how many families have to make do with so little, and what are they eating now as compared to before this happened. Only in finding out that they have indeed recovered can the government, especially the DSWD truly claim it has done its job. As it is now, it has not.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 12, 2013.