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World Bank: UK and UN lead call to prepare for disasters

Today, Britain and the United Nations are bringing together influential global leaders to help make the world more resilient to natural disasters.

The event is being chaired by International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell and Helen Clark of the United Nations Development Programme, and will tackle the lack of investment in preparing for the rising number and intensity of natural disasters.

The meeting will mobilise leading figures from governments, international aid agencies and insurance during the World Bank’s Spring Meetings in Washington

The UK will call on other nations and aid agencies to focus their skills and resources on helping the poorest to prepare and plan for future natural disasters.

In today’s meeting the group will discuss how to:

  • Significantly increase finance and support for vulnerable countries to manage the potential impacts of disasters better.
  • Provide long-term resilience in the Horn and Sahel regions of Africa, securing a commitment from wealthy nations to help build longer term resilience to drought.
  • Stimulate private sector investment in developing profitable technology and products to tackle the inevitable impacts of climate change. For example, drought-resistant maize is already reducing the risk of crop failure and helping to feed 300 million people, but further investment is needed to make crops more resilient to extreme weather.  It will also include extending insurance services to farmers and small businesses who are at increasing risk from natural disasters.

**Tomorrow’s world technology **

Earlier this month the UK Government announced a new strategy to encourage innovation in disaster response - for example using mobile phone ‘apps’ and social media to help those affected.

New figures show that last year 302 disasters affected over 206 million people. It was also the most expensive year with estimated losses of over $350 billion.

Experts predict that by 2015 climate-related disasters such as floods, droughts and famines are expected  to affect an average of over 375 million people every year. Growing food insecurity is also likely to create new humanitarian emergencies as it did in East Africa last year.

Yet at present, only 1% of international aid is spent on disaster resilience. Britain will embed disaster resilience in all of its country aid programmes by 2015 and Andrew Mitchell will encourage others to take similar measures.

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