'Collaboration is key' to minimising impact of Asian disasters

28 Feb 19

Countries in central Asia should work together to minimise the impact natural disasters have on their budgets and finances, a forum has heard.

Central Asia is one of the world’s most disaster-prone regions, and over the past three decades disasters have resulted in economic losses of almost $2.5bn. Earthquakes cost the region around 2% of the GDP every year, while floods impact GDP by around 1.6%, the World Bank said.

Speaking at a forum on disaster risk financing in Kazakhstan earlier this week, Ato Brown, World Bank country director for Kazakhstan, said: “Recognising that disasters are a major burden on their budgets, central Asian countries are increasingly interested in financial protection.”

Recommendations included investing in resilience to limit the damage caused by natural disasters and to protect sectors like agriculture, which employs one-third of the region’s population and is highly vulnerable to flooding or drought.

During 2000-01, a regional drought caused losses of more than $800m in agricultural production, the World Bank said.

Valery Petrov, director of the Center of Emergency Situations and Disaster Risk Reduction in Almaty, said: “Disasters in Central Asia know no borders and major disasters could be a threat to the entire central Asia region.

“Therefore, regional collaboration in this area is critically important.”

The participants at the forum, attended by policymakers and climate risk management experts, also heard examples from countries in other parts of the world, including Mexico, Kenya, India and Turkey, which have made progress in ensuring financial protection against natural disasters.

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