Leaders call for more aid for disaster prep

Kyodo

World leaders and disaster experts called Wednesday for more international aid to improve disaster preparedness in developing countries as they wrapped up a meeting in Sendai.

A joint statement issued by the World Bank and the Japanese government after the two-day Sendai Dialogue urged governments around the world to integrate disaster risk management into their national development planning and investment programs.

Finance Minister Koriki Jojima said Japan aims to work with the World Bank to provide assistance to developing countries in such areas as creating disaster-resilient structures and early warning systems.

During the dialogue, Japan shared with participants lessons learned from a joint study with the World Bank on the benefits of its disaster prevention measures, such as reinforced buildings, early warning systems and education, and the challenges the nation continues to face in reconstruction since the disasters of March 11, 2011.

Sendai is the capital of Miyagi Prefecture, one of the three hardest hit prefectures.

About 320 delegates from 40 countries gathered for the two-day Sendai Dialogue.

The dialogue, part of the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Tokyo this week, involved top government and international institution officials for discussions on disaster risk management in the global development agenda, organizers said.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde underlined the importance of focusing more on disaster resilience as opposed to merely focusing on responding to disasters after they occur because the latter “costs much more.”

“It’s really about explaining the . . . benefits” of taking action earlier on, Lagarde said.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim also attended the session. On the sidelines of the talks, Jojima, Kim, Lagarde and other delegates visited sites in disaster-stricken areas, including an elementary school that survived destruction in Sendai’s Arahama coastal district.