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Nations most at 'disaster risk'

Last updated on: October 19, 2012 11:16 IST

Nations most at 'disaster risk'

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The recently launched 'World Risk Report 2012' has found Bangladesh to be the fifth most vulnerable country to natural disasters in the world.

India is ranked as the 73rd most vulnerable country to natural disasters, followed by Pakistan in the 74th position. China is in the 78th position. The report evaluates a number of factors related to natural disasters.

Text: Syed Tashfin Chowdhury

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Image: A street is seen submerged by flood water in Chittagong
Photographs: Reuters

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Nations most at 'disaster risk'

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The WorldRiskIndex looks at the vulnerability of countries to natural disasters. It considers factors like public infrastructure, medical services, the prevailing nutritional situation, governance, the level of education, the availability of insurances that might help to deal with economic losses in an event, as well as the condition of the environment.

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Image: A woman cooks next to her child on a makeshift banana plant raft at a flooded village in Kurigram, Bangladesh
Photographs: Andrew Biraj/Reuters
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Nations most at 'disaster risk'

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The risk situation of 173 countries across the world has been evaluated in the report that was published in Brussels by the German Alliance for Development Works, UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security, and The Nature Conservancy on October 11.

While the Pacific Ocean's island nations of Vanuatu and Tonga are the most vulnerable countries according to the WorldRiskIndex, Malta and Qatar are the least vulnerable.

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Image: A weather satellite image shows tropical cyclone Yasi passing near the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu
Photographs: Reuters

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Nations most at 'disaster risk'

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South Asian nations like Afghanistan ranked at 40th, Bhutan at 55th, Sri Lanka at 63rd and Nepal at 105th.

The calculation of the Index, which the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security, Bonn, has been commissioned to perform by Alliance Development Works, is carried out via the four components, as mentioned in the report.

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Image: A screen shows the seismogram of an earthquake
Photographs: Thomas Peter/Reuters

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Nations most at 'disaster risk'

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These are: Exposure towards natural hazards such as earthquakes, cyclones, flooding, drought and sea level rise; susceptibility depending on infrastructure, nutrition, housing situation and economic framework conditions; coping capacities depending on governance, disaster preparedness and early warning, medical services and social and material coverage and adaptive capacities relating to forthcoming natural events, to climate change and to other challenges.

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Image: Smoke is seen after an underwater volcano erupted in Hunga Ha'apai, Tonga
Photographs: Matangi Tonga Online/Reuters
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Nations most at 'disaster risk'

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The top 15 most "at-risk" countries are all tropical and coastal. There, coastal habitats like reefs and mangroves are incredibly important for people's lives and livelihoods.

The report also warned that environmental degradation is a significant factor that reduces the capacity of societies to deal with disaster risk in many countries around the world.

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Image: Waves crash on the rocks around the Dragonara Casino at dusk in St Julian's, Malta
Photographs: Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters
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Nations most at 'disaster risk'

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"This report illustrates the powerful role that nature can play in reducing risks to people and property from coastal hazards like storms, erosion and floods," Michael Beck, lead marine scientist at the Nature Conservancy, was quoted as saying while releasing the report on October 11.

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Image: Yachts are parked at the Pearl-Qatar harbour in Doha, Qatar
Photographs: Fadi Al-Assaad/Reuters

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Nations most at 'disaster risk'

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The report mentioned that environmental degradation significantly reduces the adaptive capacity of societies to deal with disaster risk in many countries around the globe. The balance sheet for the ten years from 2002 to 2011 is alarming: 4,130 disasters, over one million dead and economic losses of at least US $1.195 trillion.

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Image: An aerial view of a flooded river island in the Brahmaputra river in Majuli, Assam
Photographs: Reuters
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"The WorldRiskIndex reveals global hotspots for disaster risk in Oceania, Southeast Asia, the southern Sahel and especially in Central America and the Caribbean. In these places, a very high threat of natural disasters and climate change meets very vulnerable communities," explained Professor Dr Jakob Rhyner, UNU‐EHS director at the report launch

The report highlights that there are some 200 million at people at risk globally, who may receive risk reduction benefits from coral reefs alone.

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Image: Schoolboys stop to look at a crack running down a road following a 6.9 magnitude earthquake in Gangtok, Sikkim
Photographs: Reuters

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