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INVESTING in disaster risk reduction saves lives and properties, deputy resident representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Carol Flore-Smereczniak said.
She said the unique geo-climatic conditions of Papua New Guinea made the country prone to various natural hazards and made the country one of the top most disaster-prone countries in Asia-Pacific region.
According to science publication Geo-Science Australia, a study of 26 Asia-Pacific countries ranked PNG among the top four with the highest percentage of population exposed to earthquakes, behind the Philippines, Indonesia and Vanuatu.
Speaking at the official launch of the disaster risk management mainstreaming programme at the Lae International Hotel on Tuesday, Flore-Smereczniak said the social ramifications of these many hazards “are multiplied when overlaid with high levels of vulnerability of people”.
“These were due to the lack of infrastructure, poor communication and road network, low human development indicators and high population growth rate.”
She said disasters and development were inter-related.
“Disasters impact on overall development and recurrent and expensive disaster relief, recovery and reconstruction operations drain away resources that could otherwise be utilised for the development of the country,” Flore-Smereczniak said.
Therefore, to attain developmental goals it was important to actively pursue disaster risk reduction in order to make development sustainable.
“We need to understand the risks posed by the hazards to development and systematically incorporate hazard consideration into development planning and budgetary processes to intensify our mitigation and preparedness efforts across all sectors.”
She said it was also crucial to build the capacities of the provinces to effectively manage disaster risks.
“This capacity building has to take into account traditional and indigenous knowledge which communities in PNG have accumulated over time.”
The DRM mainstreaming programme for PNG was supported by the Pacific Islands Applied Geo-Science Commission (SOPAC) and UNDP.