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UN: Set aside funds for Haiti disaster preparation

UN: Set aside funds for Haiti disaster preparation

Governments and aid agencies rebuilding Haiti should invest at least 10 percent of the money in preparing for future disasters, the United Nations said Thursday.
Earthquakes do not happen very often but are the deadliest of all disasters, said Margareta Wahlstrom, the U.N. chief on disaster risk reduction.
Some 60 percent of all people who died in disasters over the last decade were killed in earthquakes, according to figures released by the U.N.'s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. Storms claimed 22 percent of all disaster deaths, while extreme temperatures made up 11 percent.
In Haiti, the final death toll is likely to be higher than the ones from earthquakes in other countries because survivors in the Caribbean nation are dying from infected wounds and delays in getting lifesaving amputations, said Debarati Guha-Sapir of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, who compiled the figures for the U.N.
Some people who were rescued from the rubble in the first week after the quake "have not received any minimum care required to keep them alive," she said. "They will continue to die for another three to four weeks."
More than 112,000 deaths have been confirmed so far, according to the Haitian government.
Preparing for future disasters and reducing the risk of deaths are crucial for the reconstruction work in Haiti, Wahlstrom said.
"Ten percent of the reconstruction investment at the minimum must be for risk reduction and prevention (of deaths and injuries)," she told reporters.
If Haiti had been better prepared for disasters, hospital staff would have been trained to cope with a crisis and there would have been less lack of medical equipment and drugs, Wahlstrom said.
Haiti's weak government services were severely hit by the earthquake and unable to provide help to quake survivors in the first few days, she said.
A risk reduction strategy must also find a way to address the problem of deforestation, which is "one of the key causes of the huge impact of the annual hurricanes" in Haiti, she said.
People's houses should be rebuilt elsewhere than on hill slopes, as these slopes are prone to destructive landslides, said Wahlstrom.
Last year 10,416 people died in 327 disasters around the world, according to the U.N. figures. The numbers only include people directly killed in disasters and not those who died later of injuries or other related problems.
The number of disasters worldwide between 2000 and 2009 was dramatically higher than in the previous decade, said Guha-Sapir. But the number of people affected has gone up at a slower rate, which may be partly due to better preparedness, she said.