More than 67 million people were affected by natural disasters between 2003 and 201 and losses surpassed $34 billion, accounting for one quarter of the total global impact of natural phenomena, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) revealed in a recent report.
With the ever increasing impact of climate change, these catastrophes represent 70 percent of all emergencies in a region that the FAO has identified as having three of the world’s five countries at greatest risk; Honduras, Haiti and Nicaragua.
According to the UN organization, one third of the Latin American and Caribbean population live in areas highly vulnerable to geological -- particularly hydrometeorological -- risks. It added that these disasters have a disproportionate effect on poor people.
On the subject of the impact on regional agriculture, the report sustains than between 2003 and 2013 the sector suffered 16 percent of all damages and losses caused by natural disasters.
These disasters also caused 23 percent of the total losses in terms of production and income. In agriculture, 71 percent of the adverse effects of natural catastrophes affected crops, 13 percent forests, ten percent livestock and six percent fishing.
The organization uses the case of Colombia as an example, where a cold spell between 2010 and 2011 provoked $824 million in losses. Flooding in Tabasco, Mexico in 2007 cost $816 million.
The FAO report highlights that Latin American and Caribbean countries are looking for ways to strengthen the agricultural sector and lifestyles to cope with threats, crisis and disasters.
This is considered to be the most important precondition to eradicate hunger and attain sustainable development, the report adds.
In this regard, the FAO praised the meeting of ministers and top officials held recently in Paraguay to foster the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. This document was adopted in March 2015 during the third World UN Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.
Another event held in parallel to the Asunción meeting took the preliminary steps to adopt a regional natural disaster risk management strategy for the agricultural sector and food security, in line with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States’ Plan on Food Security, Nutrition and Eradication of Hunger.
The most important topics of the plan include paying timely attention to socio-natural disasters that might affect food supply, through risk management programs and early warning systems.
According to Jorge Meza, who is in charge of the FAO regional initiative on natural risk management, “the goal for the region is to have more effective and productive systems that help preserve the productive basis of natural disasters, with capacity to cope with risks and shocks.”Share on FB Share on TT