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Legarda: Disaster Resilience Is Linked to Poverty Alleviation

January 21, 2014

Senator Loren Legarda today stressed the link between disasters and poverty at the high level forum on strengthening disaster risk insurance, which she organized in partnership with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

“Despite our impressive economic growth, our poverty incidence hardly changed. Poverty and inequalities worsen as natural hazards and climate change constantly affect the poor and keep them trapped in a vicious cycle of risk and poverty,” said Legarda, the UN Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific.

The Senator noted that the National Economic and Development Authority estimated total damages and losses from Typhoon Yolanda at Php571 billion or USD 12.9 billion.

Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank estimated that poverty incidence in Easterm Visayas, the region hardest hit by Yolanda, increased from 41.2 percent in 2012 to 55.7 percent in 2013.

Legarda, who is also chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said that national and local governments, along with the private sector, should make good use of the lessons learned from past disasters by building better, complying with resiliency benchmarks, and ensuring not to restore the risks and vulnerabilities that existed before each natural hazard.

She added that DRR strategies should include measures not only to prevent loss of lives but also to protect the things that would sustain life such as the sources of livelihood and employment, which is why disaster risk financing and insurance are vital components of disaster risk management strategies.

“Poverty breeds disaster vulnerability, where those who have least in life risk life most. Thus, as disasters become more prevalent, the higher is the right of the poor to social protection, and the higher is the duty of government to reduce disaster risk in pursuit of resilient development. Disaster risk reduction is social justice in action,” Legarda said.

“Disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation must be closely linked to development—the kind of development that does not create new risks and promotes resilient investments,” she concluded.