Friday, November 15, 2013

Small disasters neglected despite big impact

IRIN News: As Typhoon Haiyan dominates headlines and triggers a global humanitarian response, disaster relief experts at a workshop in Dubai today warned that small disasters risked losing out on attention.

Such lower-scale events include the cyclone that hit northern Somalia’s Puntland region over the weekend, killing at least 140 people and up to 100,000 livestock. With such events, it is usually far from clear whether aid donors will get involved, which in turn can limit agencies’ desires to carry out assessments that could unrealistically raise expectations.

Bangladesh, one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to natural disasters, has not declared an official emergency in around 10 years, despite experiencing major weather events, including the Haor flooding in August 2010, which displaced 10 million people, according to NGO estimates.

“There is less money around due to the global financial crisis,” said Benedicte Giaever, director of the emergency response department at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), who organized the seminar on disaster risk reduction at Dubai’s International Humanitarian City. “There will still be money for the Philippines, and for the Haitis, but the smaller crises that we don’t see on CNN or in the newspapers won’t get funding now - those are the millions of lives that we need to save.”

...When a government chooses not to declare a humanitarian emergency, these natural disasters are often dubbed “small disasters”, “low-profile disaster events” or “severe weather events”....

A Nicaraguan child after 2007's Hurricane Felix, shot by Todd Frantom, US Navy

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