U.N. collates global disaster data to help reduce risk

TEPIC, Mexico (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A global effort to quantify the impact of disasters - from droughts to hurricanes - is underway to work out how countries can deal better with them, the United Nations said on Thursday.

The U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) said compiling a complete picture of how countries were affected would protect the most vulnerable, and show which risk-reduction strategies worked best.

“It is impossible to prevent disasters and to manage risk if a country is not measuring its disaster losses,” said Mami Mizutori, U.N. special representative for disaster risk reduction.

“Such losses are a great setback for sustainable growth and development,” she said in a statement.

UNISDR said that 144 countries had indicated that they would send their 2017 data by the end of March to its Sendai Framework Monitor online data capture system.

That would show the impact of disasters, including the number of people affected, the number of deaths, infrastructure damage and economic losses.

It would also indicate how countries were proceeding with local and national disaster-risk reduction plans, UNISDR said.

The Sendai Framework, which was agreed three years ago, set ambitious targets for governments to cut deaths and economic losses from disasters by 2030.

Countries taking part face a 2020 deadline to implement disaster plans under the framework, which aims to limit disruption to basic services such as health and education, and improve access to early warning systems.

The U.N.’s Mizutori said 26 million people a year were at risk of being pushed into poverty by extreme weather events and climate change.

“The silent, small-recurring disasters such as floods and droughts can take a huge toll on communities which lack essential health services and other coping capacities,” Mizutori said.