Geneva: India ranks second in the world
for natural disasters after China, a top UN official has said
underlining that unplanned urbanisation and failure to address
the issue of climate change pose a grave threat worldwide.
The two rapidly growing countries in the world - China
and India - rank first and second in the number of reported
natural disasters. While China witnessed 22 natural disasters,
India came second with 16.
About 373 natural disasters killed over 296,800 people
last year. The estimated costs of natural disasters in 2010 -
in which an earthquake in Haiti killed over 222,500 people and
the Russian heat wave caused around 56,000 fatalities - is
around USD 110 billion.
The loss of lives and destruction to property was
several times higher in China which witnessed landslides,
earthquakes, and floods on an increasing scale.
"Unless we act now, we will see more and more
disasters due to unplanned urbanisation and environmental
degradation," warned Margareta Wahlstrom, the special
representative to the UN Secretary General for disaster
A disaster is "a situation or event which overwhelms
local capacity, necessitating a request to a national or
international level of external assistance" and "an unforeseen
and often sudden event that causes great damage, destruction
and human suffering."
"These figures are bad," she said, cautioning that
"weather-related disasters are sure to rise in the future, due
to factors that include climate change."
Other than the Haiti earthquake and the heat wave in
Russia, other major disasters include the earthquake in China
(estimate number of deaths 2,968), floods in Pakistan (1985
deaths), landslides in China (1765 people killed) and floods
Floods, drought, earthquake, and extreme temperatures
are the major sources for rising wave natural disasters.
"It`s critical for local governments, city leaders and
their partners to incorporate climate change adaptation in
urban planning, said the UN official.
Disaster risk reduction, she said, is "no longer
optional," arguing that "what we call disaster risk reduction-
and what some are calling risk mitigation or risk management-
is a strategic and technical tool for helping national and
local governments to fulfil their responsibilities to their