The combination of more extreme climate events and an aging population has the potential to increase older people’s vulnerability to risks and disasters, especially in low- and middle-income countries. International Day for Disaster Reduction observed on October 13 aims at raising awareness about the importance of reducing the risks of disasters and hence today’s theme of “Aging Population and Disasters.”
Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world and is among the 15 countries in which population of people over the age of 60 is more than 10 million.
Although disasters such as floods are becoming a common occurrence in Pakistan, the burden is not shared equally by the entire society. The vulnerability of a person or group of persons affects their ability to cope with and survive in a disaster. Older persons, as a group, are mostly identified as among the most vulnerable segments of the population.
With the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, countries around the world are realizing the importance of disaster preparedness and response planning and management. It has been estimated that every single US dollar spent on risk reduction saves US$4-US$7 in costs associated with emergency response.
Preparedness measures can significantly reduce the impact of disasters on people’s lives, livelihoods and assets, while some disasters like floods can be prevented entirely by investing in flood-resistant infrastructure. The implementation of the National Disaster Management Plan 2012-2022 includes robust preparedness plans which will enable a rapid and more effective response when a disaster is unfolding.
I hope the observance of this day would further highlight the potential of older persons allowing them to make positive contributions during times of crises.