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Disaster risk reduction and flooding

The South Asian floods, which have affected the lives of 66 million people, have been the worst in recent memory. It is now being suggested that due to changes in climate this sort of disaster will happen ever more frequently.

Srikantha Herath, a senior academic officer at the UN University in Tokyo, has said that "catastrophic floods may become much more common", and that “Asia suffers most from floods of all the regions”. As a result, it is becoming increasingly vital that Asian countries put measures in place that will reduce the risk of floods.

In response to this, a new UN course has been launched to help five Asian countries cope with the predicted worsening of floods. Reuters UK has reported that experts from China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Nepal and Sri Lanka would take part. The courses will identify risks of floods, potential economic damage and help work out everything from improved designs for flood dykes to better weather forecasts and flood warnings. If successful, the course could be expanded to other regions.

Speaking at a recent United Nations review, Tom Arnold, CEO of Concern, highlighted the need to place more emphasis on the prevention of humanitarian crises. He said: “In light of the growing focus on the impact of climate change, there is now an unarguable case that governments in developing and developed countries should prioritise the introduction of disaster risk reduction strategies into their public policies”. 

This urgent need for disaster risk reduction strategies is strongly reflected in Concern’s work. While Concern has so far provided emergency relief items for 104,000 families affected by the Asian floods, it has also been focusing on helping communities in vulnerable areas to prepare for future flooding. For instance, in the Awaran district of Balochistan, Pakistan. Concern has been building flood protection structures, training partner organisations and helping villages prepare disaster management plans to minimise the impact of natural disasters. 

In Bangladesh, Concern’s partner Shushilan is training the local community to prepare for natural disasters. Mr Qazi Wasdud Wawaz, Shushilan’s Research and Development Advisor says: “If you know you will be attacked, at least you can have a line of defence”.