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Saturday, 02 July 2022
UN official: The world is not spending enough to prevent floods and heat waves
A flag of the United Nations flutters in wind at the main entrance of the Palais des Nations building which houses the United Nations Offices in Geneva, on September 29, 2021. (AFP)

Mami Mizutori, head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction that Nations are spending too little to prevent disasters in the face of rising global calamities, from the floods in South Africa to a record-breaking heat wave in India.

This comes in an interview, in which Mizutori said that of the $133 billion in available disaster-related financing in 2010 to 2019, only 4% went to reducing risks with the rest being spent on more costly post-calamity responses.

Mizutori said ahead of a global forum on disaster risk reduction in Bali, Indonesia: “This is the new landscape of disaster risk. We are living in a multi-hazard world with compounding effects, and we need to invest more in prevention.”

KwaZulu-Natal floods: More than 440 people have died, and the search is continuing for 63 people who are still missing (Photo: Getty images)

This lack of funding comes at a time when countries are having to contend with natural disasters and geopolitical conflicts after years of struggling with the pandemic.

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Developing nations bear the brunt of losses from disasters at 1% of gross domestic product a year, threatening to undo their hard-earned economic gains. That figure comes down to just 0.1%-0.3% for developed countries.

Mizutori said that the U.N. agency is talking with lenders and donors about shifting more funds to disaster prevention, including making infrastructure more resilient.

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It’s a difficult trade-off for nations that, while facing potentially bigger losses if disasters strikes, also have pressing short-term development needs.

She said: “We need to stop just looking at things in terms of number but in terms of quality as well, and that needs the guts of both the donor community and the receiving community."