Disaster study notes Irish flooding


The effects of the widespread flooding in Munster at the end of last year were reviewed by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in their “World Disasters Report 2010”.

The report noted rainfall totals were the highest on record for November and river levels reached record heights in several parts of the country.

It said that Irish Red Cross volunteers and ambulances were deployed to assist evacuations and to “ensure vital health personnel were able to report to work”.

The report highlighted the increasing need for a multifaceted approach to such disasters, involving civil society organisations, the private sector, the academic community as well as the formal mechanism of local government.

The IFRC’s report, published today, said more than 2.5 billion urban dwellers living in low and middle-income economies faced an “unacceptable risk” from natural disasters.

It said rapid urbanisation, poor local governance and population growth had considerably weakened the ability of certain states to cope with natural disasters or the consequences of climate change.

The report said that between one third and one half of the population in cities of poorer countries lived in informal settlements, which were not served by infrastructure and essential services.

IFRC secretary general Bekele Geleta said: “For the first time in human history more people live in towns and cities than in the countryside, but the world has not kept pace with this change.

This is why more people live in slums or informal settlements than ever before, which will lead to more people being affected by urban disasters like the terrible earthquake which struck Haiti earlier this year,” he said.

Figures from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters indicated that regions of the world that are most urbanised tend to have fewer deaths from natural disasters.

However, the figures showed higher economic losses as in the case of Europe, which has 72 per cent urban dwellers, and in 2007 experienced 65 disasters resulting in 1 per cent of deaths, but 27 per cent of the economic damage worldwide.

Only 1 per cent of households and businesses in low-income countries and 3 per cent in middle-income countries have catastrophe insurance, compared to 30 per cent in high-income nations, the data showed.