Wednesday, September 14, 2011

World Risk Index Identifies Vulnerable Countries

As highlighted in recent Devex and Irin Global reports, the United Nations University has launched a risk index that could help donors and aid agencies have a better grasps of the vulnerability of different countries to calamities and, as a result, better tailor international response and resilience-building initiatives to disaster-prone countries.

The World Risk Report 2011 (link here) was created by the U.N. University Institute for Environment and Human Security in Bonn along with five German non-governmental organizations. The index takes into account a country’s economic, political and ecological factors in determining its capacity to respond to disasters, IRIN News says. 

The data may assist donors and aid organizations to better understand why some countries are more at risk of calamity than others, and shape their responses when disaster strikes.
The World Risk Index (WRI), explained Jörn Birkmann, scientific head of the WRI project at the UN institute, is unique in defining risk as the interaction between a natural hazard and the vulnerability of a particular community. It helps plan not only short-term responses but also long-term interventions.

“The index gives you all that information at a glance — showing the strength of a particular area’s capacity to adapt or cope in percentages, which is useful to communicate the strengths and weakness of a particular area when you are seeking funding from donors,” the ERIN news agency quotes Jörn Birkmann, the scientific head of the team in charge of developing the index.

The index examines four key components: exposure to hazards, susceptibility to damage caused by potential disasters, capacity to cope, and existing adaptation strategies. 

Assessing countries based on these components, the index identifies the Vanuatu, Tonga, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Guatemala as the top five counties most at risk.

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