2 Feb 2006

Call to review coastal developments to mitigate effects of disasters

9:16 am on 2 February 2006

A climate change expert says Pacific countries should look hard at coastal development as a key way of mitigating the impact of disasters.

Professor John Hay, from the International Global Change Institute at New Zealand's Waikato University, has helped produce a World Bank report calling on Pacific countries to be better prepared for disasters.

The report says this would lessen the impact financially, socially and environmentally.

Professor Hay says there needs to a priority change and one immediate step would be to review coastal development.

"And looking at the development to make sure that this is not increasing the risk levels that are already occurring. An example would be Samoa which has taken a really pro-active lead in terms of looking at coastal hazards and showing where developments such as new buildings and infrastructure should not be located because it will exacerbate the risk."

He says there are major benefits in being prepared for disasters and the island countries and donors need to change their priorities.

A lot of countries have issues such as education and health that are really occupying, not only their attention but also their development assistance and the allocation of their own funds. The donors are perhaps exacerbating this situation by always being there to pick up the pieces and assist countries in terms of rebuilding.