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World | National

Philippines is 'third most disaster-prone country', says report
The online news portal of TV5

DOHA, Qatar – The Philippines placed third among countries most prone to disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis, following the South Pacific island states of Vanuatu and Tonga, a United Nations report said.

The release of the World Risk Report 2011 came as the Philippine Senate passed on third and final reading early this week a bill seeking the establishment of a People’s Survival Fund that will support communities develop climate change adaptation measures and disaster risk reduction projects.

Published by the German Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft (Alliance Development Works), which bills itself as an alliance of German development and relief agencies providing long-term aid in the aftermath of major disasters and in emergencies, the World Risk Report ranks 173 countries based on their exposure, susceptibility, coping capacities and adaptive capacities to disasters.

(Click here for the full report)

Oil-rich Qatar, on the other hand, had the lowest risk index, according to the report, followed by Malta and Saudi Arabia.

The other countries that placed high in the risk index are in Asia and Latin America.

Among these were Bangladesh, Timor Leste, Cambodia, Guatemala, Costa Rica and El Salvador.

However, while Japan, Chile and the Netherlands were among the top 15 in terms of risk exposure, their high coping and adaptive capacities kept them off the top of the World Risk Index.

The report explained that “the examples of Japan, Chile and the Netherlands, all belonging to the 15 countries with highest exposure, show that good disaster preparedness in view of the development of coping and adaptive capacities can significantly reduce the disaster risk.”

It noted that state failure is a major risk factor.

“Whether natural events turn into disasters depends critically on the coping and adaptive capacity of governments,” the report said. “States with strong institutions have fewer deaths after extreme natural events than those with weak or inexistent institutions.”

The World Risk Index is drawn up by looking at the following:

- How likely is an extreme natural event and will it affect people?

- How vulnerable are people to natural hazards?

- To what extent are societies able to cope with severe and immediate disasters?

- Does society take precautionary measures against anticipated future natural hazards?

Meanwhile, the bill seeking to establish the PSF will appropriate at least P1-billion pesos from the annual General Appropriations Act.

"This fund shall be used to support local governments' adaptation activities, such as in the areas of land and water resources management, agriculture and fisheries, health, infrastructure development, and natural  ecosystems," said Senator Loren Legarda, one of the measure’s sponsors, in a statement.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile is also one of the original sponsors of the PSF bill.

A counterpart bill in the House of Representatives, HB 3528, principally sponsored by Deputy House Speaker Lorenzo Tanada III, has passed second reading.