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India ranks poorly in disaster preparedness, hence is more vulnerable to natural calamities than BRICS nations

By Our Representative
Bonn-based prestigious United National (UN) University’s new “World Risk Report 2016” United Nations University has suggested that while India may not be as exposed to natural disasters compared to most of the 171 countries it has analyzed, it ranks poorly in preparedness of societies cope with acute disasters and in taking preventive measures to face natural hazards.
Thus, while its exposure to natural disasters is found to be pretty low, 11.94%, as against developed countries such as the US and Australia, whose exposure index if respectively 12.25% and 15.05%, in sharp contrast, India’s lack of the ability to cope with disasters is quite high, 80.22%, as against US’ 48.24% and 42.53%.
In fact, the report gives the example of Australia the country, despite its high exposure to natural disasters, is able to mitigate its vulnerability to drought, earthquakes and sea level rise, and thus attaining one of the best rankings in its ability to fight disasters.
In fact, even among the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, with whom India is internationally sought to be compared, India ranks poorly in two of the most important of the four key questions sought to be answered I the report: To what extent can societies cope with acute disasters, and is a society taking preventive measures to face natural hazards to be reckoned with in the future?
As against India’s lack of copies capacities to the tune of 80.22%, Brazil’s is 67.60%, Russia’s is 59.12%, China’s 69.86% and South Africa’s 69.02%. Similarly, in lack of adaptive capacities (preparedness), as against India’s 50.78%, Brazil’s is 37.50%, Russia’s 33.81%, China’s 40.18% and South Africa’s 38.76%. This makes India more vulnerable to natural disasters.
The report gives the example of Australia the country, despite its high exposure to natural disasters, is able to mitigate its vulnerability to drought, earthquakes and sea level rise, and thus attaining one of the best rankings in its ability to fight disasters.
The report says that “fragile infrastructure” such as “dilapidated transport routes, unsafe power grids, buildings in a state of disrepair” during extreme natural events can pose a “grave consequences for the local population, for whom it represents a direct threat.”
It adds, “In addition, it delays the effective potential for those affected to help themselves and impedes humanitarian relief provided by the local authorities or from abroad.”
The report further says, “Usually, the challenges that relief agencies face are on the ‘last mile’ of the logistics chain: Organizing transportation despite ruined roads or bridges, and ensuring fair distribution when, for example, there is a scarcity of water, food and shelter.”
The concept of the World Risk Report 2016 is whether it be an earthquake or a tsunami, a cyclone or floods, the risk of a natural event turning into a disaster “always depends only partly on the force of the natural event itself.”
It underlines, “The living conditions of the people in the regions affected and the options available to respond quickly and to provide assistance are just as significant. Those who are prepared, who know what to do in the event of an extreme natural event, have a greater chance of survival.”
“Countries that see natural hazards coming, that are preparing for the consequences of climate change and are providing the financial means required will be better prepared for the future”, the report points out.

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