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Nigeria, others win global accolade for reducing disaster deaths

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam   |   17 October 2016   |   3:33 am
Homes flooded in Nigeria

Homes flooded in Nigeria

Nigeria was bestowed with Sendai Target Champion for Reducing Disaster Mortality for its successful efforts to stop Ebola taking a hold in the country and limiting the number of cases.

As part of events to mark this year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction, the United Nations has recognised Nigeria and four other outstanding examples of successful efforts to reduce disaster mortality.

The occasion marks the beginning of the “Sendai Seven Campaign: Seven Targets, Seven Years” which references the seven targets for reducing disaster losses in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted by UN Member States in March, 2015.

The slogan for today is “Live To Tell” backed by a social media campaign which will reach 20 million people and the focus is on the Sendai Framework’s first target which is to reduce global disaster mortality substantially by 2030; 1.35 million people are estimated to have died in disasters linked to natural hazards over the last twenty years.

In Africa, the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health was recognised as a Sendai Target Champion for Reducing Disaster Mortality for its successful efforts to stop Ebola taking a hold in the country and limiting the number of cases to just 20 when the pandemic was at its height in west Africa.

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mr. Robert Glasser, said: “The Sendai Framework recognises as never before the importance of health as an issue for disaster risk management and disaster risk as an issue for the health sector. Nigeria’s successful battle against Ebola is a good example.

“I would also like to pay tribute to all the health workers who put their lives on the line to save others in African countries affected by the pandemic. Eleven of those who died from Ebola in Nigeria were brave health workers who sacrificed themselves for others.”

Others recognized are Indian NGO SEEDS, Fiji, Peru and Meteoalarm, a portal which gets three billion hits per year and was established after 140 people died in Cyclone Lothar in 1999. It is operated by the Austrian weather service, ZAMG, with the support of the pan-European body EUMETNET, on behalf of 31 national weather institutes and provides the public with impact-based weather warnings and alerts.

The Indian NGO SEEDS is being recognised for its work in India and Nepal in providing earthquake and cyclone-resistant housing in poor communities.

Meanwhile, analysis of 20 years of data on 7,056 disaster events in which 1.35 million people died, shows that earthquakes and tsunamis are the biggest killers overall, followed closely by climate-related disasters, and 90 per cent of disaster deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.

The report, “Poverty & Death: Disaster Mortality 1996-2015” was issued in support of a campaign to reduce global disaster mortality especially in poor communities.

The UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, described the report as “a damning indictment of inequality. High-income countries suffer huge economic losses in disasters but people in low-income countries pay with their lives.

“I call on all Governments to work with civil society and the private sector to move from managing disasters to managing risk. Let us move from a culture of reaction to one of prevention and build resilience by reducing loss of life.”

Death tolls in disasters are directly related to income and development levels. Low and middle-income countries accounted for 1,221,490, of the overall 20-year death toll. Dr. Debarati Guha-Sapir, head of CRED, commented: “These mortality statistics have implications for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Disaster deaths are a strong indication for poverty and under-development and 90 per cent of disaster deaths happen in low and middle-income countries.

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