More corruption in PH means more deaths from disasters – study
MANILA, Philippines – The higher the levels of corruption are in a country, the more casualties it tends to have from natural disasters, a recently released study said.
Unfortunately for the Philippines, it is among 10 countries deemed at "extreme risk" in the Corruption Risk Index 2015 indicated in a study by risk analysis firm Verisk Maplecroft.
"The loss of life associated with natural disasters is higher in countries with higher levels of corruption. Corruption can lead to ineffectively enforced regulation, which can be a significant threat in areas highly exposed to natural hazards," said the analysis of the study obtained by Rappler.
The Philippines is joined in the list by other fast-growing economies like Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India and Vietnam.
Ironically, these corruption-prone countries have experienced 3 times more natural disasters than countries with more honest public officials since 1990.
They have faced 5,409 natural disasters compared with 1,889 disasters withstood by countries considered as "low risk" and "medium risk" in the corruption index.
Corruption levels and casualties from disasters are linked, asserted the study.
The countries with high corruption levels suffered an average of 242 fatalities per disaster, while countries with less corruption suffered 21 deaths per disaster.
"Corruption can strongly influence the outcome of natural hazard disasters, by hindering preparation for and response to natural hazard events…By reducing levels of corruption building standards and land regulation are likely to improve, which would lower the humanitarian impacts of natural hazard events," said the analysis.
The country, besieged by corruption scandals almost as frequently as typhoons, is particularly at risk.
"Corruption is entrenched in the country, reflected by a series of high-profile graft scandals in 2014. A lack of accountability and transparency in the allocation of public funds impedes the rate of development and undermines public confidence in government institutions, slowing efforts to build capacity to manage disaster risk effectively," read the study. (READ: The calamity of mistrust)
Another indicator is how strong economic development in the last decade has not trickled down to the poorest – and often the most disaster-vulnerable – communities.
Despite strides in GDP growth and upgrades in investment ranking, 25% of the population continue to live below the poverty line.
The poor are often not equipped to deal with disaster events that follow one after the other, making it harder to lift them out of poverty.
Corruption punches holes into a country's ability to rise above a disaster by undermining specific policies and programs vital to a robust disaster resilience program.
For one thing, corruption hinders the collection and management of information that could help the government target the most affected populations.
Corruption also tends to get in the way of the implementation of land use planning – critical to ensuring communities are far away from disaster-prone areas.
Building codes and quality of infrastructure are also at the mercy of dishonest practices by both government officials and the private sector.
Poor building standards and fragile infrastructure that result from such practices lead to higher numbers of casualties, according to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).
True enough, those countries considered at "extreme risk" in the Corruption Risk Index garnered a score of 4.45 out of 10 in Maplecroft's Infrastructure Fragility Index. In contrast, countries with less corruption scored 8.28 out of 10 in infrastructure.
'Greatest gains' in PH
Despite the gloomy results, the study said the Philippines, along with Sri Lanka, demonstrated the greatest improvements in resilience in recent years.
The widely-criticized government response to Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) in 2013 may have been a catalyst for these gains.
The Maplecroft study cited the government response to Typhoon Ruby (international name Hagupit) last December.
"With a death toll of just 19 people, improved steps in disaster risk management process included better communication and the evacuation of over 1 million people," it said.
To keep this up, the Philippines should make sure disaster risk reduction management is mainstreamed into its other development programs.
This will ensure more sustainable economic growth that can easily bounce back after a natural disaster.
There are ways the government can make sure economic growth leads to greater resilience, said the study.
It recommends the construction of better-quality infrastructure, the implementation of more rigorous building standards, a campaign against corruption and poverty-alleviation programs. – Rappler.com