Head of UNDRR reviews policies against disasters in Panama

During her visit to Panama, the head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) reiterated on Saturday the world body’s concern about the impact that the war in Ukraine would have on food security,

Mami Mizutori said that despite the geographical distances, the whole world will feel the impact of the conflict in Ukraine through “inflation, the increase in the price of energy”, although she pointed out that it is still too early to formulate a particular analysis.

Mizutori is in Panama to see progress in local efforts to reduce the impact of disasters.

The official described the case of African countries such as Egypt, which imports 90% of all its wheat from Ukraine and Russia, and Somalia, which does almost all of it because it is wheat at a lower price.

“If imports stop, that will have an effect, wheat from other regions will go up” in price and other grains such as corn and rice may also increase, he commented. The UN “is really concerned” about how this “is going to affect food security in many countries,” she said.

Mizutori, who also serves as special representative of the UN Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction, highlighted in this context the importance of countries in strengthening government systems to “withstand pressure, which is not easy, but it is reality”.

“All countries are very connected and you have to be very aware that what affects one place in one place is not going to stay there,” he said.

During his visit to Panama, Mizutori will review current policies and progress in the region with regard to plans and actions for disaster reduction and mitigation. The official visited the Las Margaritas de Chepo community, a rural area east of the capital that is prone to flooding due to overflows of the Mamoní River and the Bonete creek.

Community leaders informed the United Nations official about the work they have done for more than five years, including cleaning, maintenance of sewers and identification of areas prone to flooding, among others, to mitigate floods.

Mizutori drew attention to the lack of investment by countries in disaster prevention policies, in Central America and in other regions.

“There is still a global trend to respond after the disaster”, when the deaths and the loss of homes are counted. He mentioned a report released by his office in 2021 that indicates that 95% of international humanitarian cooperation is aimed at actions after the disaster and only 5% goes to prevention.

“This has to change, meanwhile we are in a vicious circle: disaster, response, recovery,” he stressed.

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