BY DINT OF BOTH FATE and human failure, the Philippines seems wedded to disasters and natural calamities. It is not only exposed, it is also vulnerable to disasters.

Its location in the Ring of Fire in the Pacific Ocean, opens the Philippines to frequent visits by typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.

But location does not by itself determines a country’s vulnerability to disasters, which may not always spell damage to life and property.

In its World Risk Report for 2012, however, the Alliance of Development Works and United Nations University-Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), ranks the Philippines No. 3 in a list of 137 countries that are “most at risk” to disasters. It is also the country that is most at risk to natural calamities across Asia.

“Whether an earthquake or a tsunami, a hurricane or a flood, the risk that a natural event will develop into a disaster depends only partially on the strength of the event itself,” the report said. “A substantial cause lies in the living conditions of people in the affected regions and the opportunities to quickly respond and help.”

The UNU-EHS, a research and training institute based in Bonn, Germany, is part of the academic arm of the United Nations. It focuses on problems and solutions involving the environment and their impact on human security. The Alliance of Development Work, on the other hand, is an association of German development and relief agencies.

In its report for 2012, the UNU-EHS ranked countries using exposure and vulnerability as indicators for risk.

Vanuatu and Tonga share top billing in the World Risk Report 2012, ahead of the Philippines. The other countries in the top 10 “most at risk” list include, in descending order, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Solomon Islands, Costa Rica, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, and El Salvador.

Stay informed, read the World Risk Report 2012 in Data in Detail of PCIJ’s Money Politics Online.

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