Disaster and Development

Since the beginning of the century, disasters like storms and earthquakes have killed more than a million people and caused nearly $2 trillion in economic damage. By investing in preparedness, as the Philippines has done, countries can build resilience and save lives.

NEW YORK – When Typhoon Hagupit made landfall in the Philippines on December 6, memories of Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,300 people, were fresh in people’s minds. Some 227,000 families – more than a million people – were evacuated ahead of Hagupit’s arrival, according to the United Nations. The typhoon, one of the strongest of the season, killed some 30 people. All deaths from disasters are a tragedy, but the fact that this number was not much higher attests to the efforts that the Philippines has made to prepare for natural disasters.

As Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, I have seen firsthand the devastation and heartbreak caused by disasters around the world. Since the beginning of the century, more than a million people have died in storms like Hagupit and other major disasters, such as the 2010 Haitian earthquake, with economic damage totaling nearly $2 trillion.

These losses are tragic, but they are also avoidable. They serve as a reminder that disaster preparedness is not an optional luxury; it is a constant, intensive process that is necessary to save lives, protect infrastructure, and safeguard development.

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