Floods are the most frequent among all natural disasters. In 2010 alone, 178 million people globally were affected by floods. More than 90 % of the global population exposed to floods lives in Asia.
|Photo courtesy of ianmyles through a Creative Commons license|
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Like the massive earthquake in Japan earlier this year, the floods in Thailand are again exposing the vulnerabilities of fragmented global supply chains.
Last month, a team of economists from the World Bank’s International Trade Department encountered some flooding side-effects during a visit to the Indonesian production site for ECCO, a Danish company that manufactures footwear. In order to transfer production to the factory in Indonesia, the workers needed the specific shoe molds used in the Thai factory. But there was a problem: The Thai factory was under three meters of water.
|ภาพภ่ายโดย iamyles ผ่านการใช้ลิขสิทธิ์จากครีเอทีฟคอมมอนส์|
เมื่อเดือนที่แล้ว ทีมนักเศรษฐศาสตร์จากแผนกการค้าระหว่างประเทศ (International Trade Department) ของธนาคารโลกได้พบเห็นปัญหาบางประการอันเป็นผลข้างเคียงจากภาวะน้ำท่วมดังกล่าวในระหว่างการเยือนโรงงานผลิตรองเท้าที่ประเทศอินโดนีเซียของบริษัทเอ็คโคจากเดนมาร์ก ในการที่จะย้ายการผลิตไปยังโรงงานที่อินโดนีเซียนั้น คนงานจำเป็นต้องใช้แม่พิมพ์รองเท้าแบบเฉพาะที่ใช้ในโรงงานที่ประเทศไทย แต่ปัญหาคือ โรงงานไทยกำลังจมอยู่ใต้น้ำระดับสามเมตร
It’s been an unusually severe rainy season in some parts of Lao PDR, with several typhoons passing over after making landfall in
|Map courtesy of Wikipedia through a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.|
Taking development to the outlying provinces of Solomon Islands is not an easy ride. I found this out when going on a site visit to the Rural Development Program (RDP) at the country’s far western province of Choiseul.
At the Northwest region of Choiseul province where the island faces open waters that span to the Micronesian archipelago of the Pacific lies a village called Polo. The Polo community has a primary school that was established in 1957 when Solomon Islands was still a British Protectorate, prior to independence in 1978. Since its inception, the Polo school never had a permanent classroom building until two years ago when through the RDP participatory process, the community identified the school as their main need.
The New Year was not so happy in Queensland, Australia. In December 2010 and January 2011, floods swept across the state and at the beginning of February 2011, cyclone Yasi, a category 5 storm, struck near Cairns. Dozens died, hundreds were evacuated, thousands were affected and an excess of US$15 billion of damages were caused. A state of emergency was declared in all but one of the 75 councils. Seventy percent of the state was impacted; an area five times the size of the United Kingdom.
|A power substation in Yingxhou, Sichuan Province was almost totally destroyed in the magnitude 7.9 Sichuan-Wenchuan earthquake in 2008.|
The statistics are startling. 75% of global flood mortality risk is concentrated in only three Asian countries: Bangladesh, China and India. 85 % of deaths from tropical cyclones are in just two Asian countries: Bangladesh and India. Indeed, Bangladesh alone accounts for over three-quarters of people dying from tropical cyclones. 85% of global earthquake risk is concentrated in only 12% of the earth’s surface—a large part of it in Asia. In 2009, six of the ten countries with the highest mortality rates and GDP losses from natural disasters were in Asia. 82% of all lives lost in disasters since 1997, are in Asian countries.
|Speaking with colleague Ahsan Tehsin, who worked on the Bank's damage and needs assessment for Pakistan.|
I have always had a desire to work in a developing country and have felt a pull towards Pakistan due to my heritage. So after two exciting years in Washington DC, I came across an opportunity to work in the Islamabad office; I went for it.
Within days of accepting the position -to work for the Multi-Donor Trust Fund supporting the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Federally-Administered Tribal Areas and Balochistan regions- I was in Islamabad. I had lived in the country for years when I was younger. With family and my fluency in Urdu, this was a homecoming of sorts, but a bittersweet one.
Each day on my way to work I am welcomed by the many checkpoints placed every few kilometers with law enforcement inspecting every vehicle with caution and professionalism (two qualities I once thought they were incapable of possessing!). I encounter at least seven checkpoints. The security situation has deteriorated to such an extent that these barriers to the flow of traffic - and in the mornings, to the flow of thought – bring calm to an otherwise chaotic world.
With the recent MDG summit in New York, I think it’s a good time to stop and take a look at the big water and sanitation picture. We know the numbers of people without access are daunting: 2.5 billion with no sanitation, 887 million without access to safe water. But more and more people are indeed gaining access. Since 1990, 1.6 billion have gained access to safe water. The world will likely even reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) set in 2015 to halve the number of people without access to clean water, according to the UN.
This is no small feat, and the world should take a moment to celebrate this success, and learn from challenges encountered along the way so that we continue beyond 2015 until everyone can access clean water and sanitation.
Usually, when we think of humanitarian relief, images of food drops or internally displaced persons (IDP) camps first come to mind but there is a whole world of altruism that has emerged which is helping behind the scenes in times of crises. Detailed maps are critical to delivering humanitarian relief to the millions of Pakistanis that have been affected by flooding.
A new page on the World Bank’s web site emphasizes that addressing climate change is first and foremost a development priority for Africa. Even if emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases stopped today, there is wide agreement among scientists that global temperature will increase by 2 degrees Celsius by mid-century. If no action is taken to adapt to climate change, it threatens to dissipate the gains made by many African countries in terms of economic growth and poverty reduction over the past ten years.
|Photo © World Bank|
|A recently released Post-Disaster Needs Assessment tells of big numbers: total damage and losses following typhoons Ketsana and Parma was US$4.3 billion. (Photo by Nonilon Reyes)|
My mind raced back to the remote town of Balangiga in Eastern Samar, as the Philippines government, development partners and the private sector were discussing the findings of the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) in a recent dialogue in Makati City.
The PDNA—prepared by a team of local and international experts from the government agencies, private sector, civil society and development partners—tells about big numbers: total damage and losses following two typhoons, Ketsana and Parma, was US$4.3 billion. And resources needed for the Philippines to pick up the pieces and eventually get back on its feet is equally big—more than US$4.4 billion (pdf). There were discussions about how the PDNA could serve as a framework for recovery and reconstruction, but my mind kept telling me that one of the key principles to effectively address floods and disasters in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon—on top of the required resources, processes, and governance reforms—lies in the experiences of residents of that remote town in the Visayas Islands.