Malaysia warns of insufficient regional disaster prevention efforts

Kuala Lumpur – Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said Tuesday that disaster prevention efforts were insufficient in most Asian nations, and warned that countries ill-equipped to handle disasters would face increasingly high economic losses. “It is acknowledged that not all disasters can be prevented, but their impact and all the underlying risks can be reduced,” Najib, who is also Malaysia’s finance minister, said at an Asian conference on disaster-risk reduction.

“Neverthless, such efforts have never been sufficient,” he was quoted as saying by the official Bernama news agency.

Najib said the effects of disasters could be reduced if people in high risk areas, especially, were educated on the risks and means of protections.

He called on the private sector to work with the government in working towards activities aimed at disaster risk reduction.

Najib told more than 600 delegates from 39 countries across Asia that disaster prevention should be made a priority with governments, citing a UNDP report that an average of 326 climate disasters occurred per year from 2000 to 2004. More than 200 million people, mostly in Asia, were affected annually.

“There may be a need to develop or modify policies, laws and organisational arrangements to integrate disaster risk reduction into plans, programmes and projects of development,” he said.

The three-day Third Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction is set to review the implementation of a framework of action adopted in Kobe, Japan, at the first such conference in 2005.

Asia, which is home to nearly 4 billion of the world’s 6.4 billion people, has seen major disasters in recent years, resulting in huge losses of life and damage to property.

The most recent was Cyclone Nargis which hit military-ruled Myanmar, where more than 140,000 were left dead or missing.

The conference in Kuala Lumpur is expected to identify ways to increase cooperation between international agencies and governments in requiring concerted action in disaster-risk management.

A declaration is scheduled to be adopted at the end of the meeting on Thursday.

Source : DPA

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