Experts gather in Sendai to strengthen potentially life-saving disaster data to build Asia-Pacific resilience

Group photo: Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on Improving Disaster Data to Building Resilience in Asia and the Pacific. Photo Credit: ESCAP/SROENEA
Group photo: Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on Improving Disaster Data to Building Resilience in Asia and the Pacific. Photo Credit: ESCAP/SROENEA

More than 35 experts from Asia-Pacific National Disaster Management Agencies and National Statistical Offices, United Nations agencies, donors and civil society gathered this week in Sendai to develop a way forward in building an evidence-based resilience system through improved collection and dissemination of disaster data.

Organised by the United Nations Economic and Social for Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), with the support of the Tohoku University, the Expert Group Meeting agreed on the development of a set of “core data” for resilience related to the different aspects of policy making, planning, programming and monitoring of disaster risk management and, to the extent possible, climate change.

In Asia and the Pacific, a region most prone to disasters and the adverse effects of climate change, timely and reliable data is vital to reduce damage and losses from disasters. Data is critical in reducing risks, as well as preparing for, responding to and recovering effectively from disasters. Such data needs to be inclusive and disaggregated to ensure that no vulnerable groups are left out, for example elderly persons or persons with disabilities.

“It is more important than ever that we translate 'resilience' into parameters and indicators, so that we can set targets, monitor progress and measure results with high confidence,” said Mr. Kilaparti Ramakrishna, Director of ESCAP’s East and North-East Asia (ENEA) Office at the opening ceremony. “This is the only way that we can improve the way we plan and invest in safer nations and communities.”

The President of Tohoku University, Professor Susumu Satomi reiterated his commitment to help initiate the process of developing disaster statistics in Asia and the Pacific coordinated by the United Nations and supported by its partners. “We will provide technical support as much as we can on this endeavor.”

Currently, the lack of reliable data and robust regional mechanisms hinder ESCAP member States’ ability to develop resilience and to respond to disasters swiftly through evidence-based policy making, planning and programming.

The meeting concluded with an agreement on the need to develop a set of minimum basic core set of data and a road map starting now through to 2014 that includes the establishment of an expert group to take this forward.

ESCAP and other development partners, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC), Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM), Japan International Cooperation Agency, International Research Institute for Disaster Science (IRIDeS) and Tohoku University will work together in moving the initiative forward.

Outcome conclusions from the meeting will be presented to the third Session of the ESCAP Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction on 27-29 November 2013.