The Philippines is the third most vulnerable to disaster risks and natural hazards in the world, according to a study by the United Nations.
The World Risk Index 2011, developed by the UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security in Germany, ranked each of the 173 countries according to their “risk score” or their exposure to hazards such as earthquakes, floods and storms, drought and sea level rise; its vulnerability and susceptibility; and its coping and adaptive capacities.
Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, emphasized that the Philippines is significantly rising on the list from placing 12th in 2009 then 6th in 2010.
In an interview on Monday, Legarda said, “Hihintayin pa ba natin na tayo ay maging topnotcher sa pinaka-high at risk (and) vulnerable sa mundo bago tayo umaksyon? (Will we wait until we top the list before we do anything?)”
The UN report, which was released in September, noted that the Philippines is greatly affected by extreme natural hazards and that it needs to focus more on disaster risk reduction than on relief and rehabilitation efforts.
Legarda pointed out that what the country lacks is the coordination of government agencies and local government. “We have enough policies but we fall short on implementing them. The government should have a sense of urgency and compassion in implementing them,” the senator said.
The senator also stressed the importance of creating a national dam safety program that would take into account the dam priorities of water supply, irrigation, power generation and the effects of releasing water to downstream communities.
The island of Vanuatu and the Kingdom of Tonga, which are both located in the South Pacific Ocean, topped this year’s World Risk Index ahead of the Philippines, while Qatar in the Middle East has the lowest risk score.