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World Vision Says Asian Disasters Should Be 'Wake-Up Call' For Global Leaders

BANGKOK, Oct. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- World Vision, one of the world's leading emergency response agencies, says the recent series of disasters throughout Asia should be a wake-up call to the global community to fund efforts that reduce risk and save lives. The aid agency, an expert in disaster risk reduction (DRR), works with communities all over the world to help reduce their vulnerabilities to disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis, and says that DRR funding must be a priority for global governments and donors.

"Disasters are becoming increasingly costly in terms of lives and destruction," said Melisa Bodenhamer, World Vision's expert in DRR. "There must be a paradigm shift in the way that organizations think about development work, but the goal is to be systematic about building up the resiliency of communities before a disaster hits. DRR activities can help reduce the toll on human lives and government budgets. In fact, research has shown that every $1 spent on disaster risk reduction activities saves nearly $7 in emergency response funds."

For DRR to have a significant impact on lives and livelihoods, action needs to be taken at a number of levels. Ongoing success in DRR will involve a mix of structural elements, including more and better designed infrastructure and housing, and non-structural elements such as education and early warning systems.

World Vision advocates for a minimum of 10 percent of development funding to be set aside for risk reduction activities. Natural disasters have always occurred, and the poor suffer most from them. But DRR activities can -- and do -- help communities identify and reduce the vulnerabilities families faced by natural disasters. The risk of disaster impact can be reduced by helping communities develop early warning systems, establish risk mapping techniques and hold trainings to teach communities how to reduce their vulnerabilities and protect themselves in the event of a disaster.

As a second massive storm bears down on the Philippines, a proposed national law on DRR in the Philippines is stalled at the committee level at the Lower House. The DRR Bill would put a priority on disaster risk reduction and management, and it also seeks to institutionalize the disaster risk reduction plans in the federal budget.

"We have been pushing for the passage of this bill for over a decade now," said Minnie Portales, World Vision's advocacy and communications director in the Philippines. "We cannot afford to have another Typhoon Ketsana destroy our property or cause so much suffering to our children and families."

World Vision is the lead agency of the Disaster Risk Reduction Network (DRRNet) in the Philippines. DRRNet is a network of disaster risk reduction advocates and practitioners throughout the country. According to DRRNet, the Philippines' vulnerability to disasters has increased immensely throughout the years, resulting in the loss of lives, livelihood, and property.

This call to action comes as a second massive storm bears down on the island nation. Ensuring sustained political commitment to DRR is critical, not only to reduce losses in a more disaster prone world, but also to prevent natural disasters unwinding progress already made in reducing poverty and suffering.

World Vision has been working with the world's poorest people for nearly 60 years to ease the impact of disasters when they occur and implement strategies to reduce the effect of future disaster events. World Vision uses its past experience to help the most vulnerable, particularly children, recover from natural disasters and increase their resilience to future climate induced setbacks. The agency works in 100 countries, and it currently has DRR programs in Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and the Philippines, among other nations.

World Vision will release a full report on its DRR call-to-action for the global community in Bangkok on 6 October 2009 at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference.

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

SOURCE World Vision

SOURCE World Vision
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