MOUNTAIN COMMUNITIES PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE TO NATURAL HAZARDS, SAYS
SECRETARY-GENERAL ON INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR DISASTER REDUCTION
Following is the Secretary-General's message for the International Day for Disaster Reduction -- "Disaster reduction for sustainable mountain development",
9 October 2002:
The theme of this year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction –- “disaster reduction for sustainable mountain development” -- is related to another United Nations observance: the International Year of Mountains (2002). There is a natural link between the two.
No community is immune from the threat of natural disasters, but mountain communities are particularly vulnerable. They are exposed to extreme climate events such as high rain and snowfalls, and the landslides and avalanches that result. Poverty has forced people to build homes on hazard-prone slopes, and demographic pressures have pushed them to settle at the feet of volcanoes and in other seismically active areas. Poor land-use planning, environmental mismanagement, the lack of regulatory mechanisms and other human activities increase the risk that a disaster will occur, and worsen their effects when they do.
Any community is at risk of natural hazards. But with people in harm’s way as never before, we can and must do better in responding to this challenge. Early warning and risk reduction measures are helping to reduce significantly the number of people who lose their lives to disasters. New planning and forecasting tools are helping to mitigate the devastation wrought regularly by floods.
Sustainable development in mountain communities and elsewhere requires more up-front and “upstream” investments in these and other measures. In implementing the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, in building a world of resilient communities and nations, prevention must be our priority.
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