18 Jan 2005

World Bank says Pacific governments need to prioritise disaster management

11:15 am on 18 January 2005

The World Bank's Natural Resource Economist for the Pacific says the regions governments need to place disaster risk managememt at a higher level.

Sofia Bettencourt says the Boxing Day Tsunami has added urgency to the fact that Pacific countries are not prepared for major disasters.

Ms Bettencourt says there needs to be an attitude change in the highest levels of government so that countries think more about the long-term situation.

She says there are some simple measures include using underground powerlines, having higher building standards and managing coral and mangrove belts so they can withstand strong waves.

However Ms Bettencourt says responsibility also lies with donors.

"Donor agencies have a very high responsibility in making sure that they do not create perverse incentives by always rushing in after disasters but not funding prevention measures because they are less appealing to their own political constituencies."

Sofia Bettencourt