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PRESS RELEASE
International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction to be Celebrated on 9 October
UN Sasakawa Award on Disaster Reduction to be Presented

M/02/12
7 October 2002

The International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction will be celebrated on 9 October with initiatives highlighting the way ahead on how to reduce risk, benefiting from risk mapping, education and mountain development, as a contribution to the International Year of Mountains. In particular, a new brochure on "Disaster Reduction for Sustainable Mountain Development" offers information on disaster reduction in mountain areas; a children's booklet on volcanoes has been produced; and the United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction will be delivered in Geneva to reward outstanding achievements by disaster reduction practitioners in their field.

The United Nations and the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction aim for the high ground as the focus for the International Day for Disaster Reduction on 9 October. They want to build a safer world for mountain communities. This is a contribution to the International Year of Mountains in 2002.
" No community is immune from the threat of natural disasters, but mountain communities are particularly vulnerable," says Sálvano Briceño, Director of the ISDR Secretariat of the United Nations. Winds seem to blow harder and snowfalls are more perilous in the high passes. Avalanches can wipe out whole villages. Heavy rains can wash away fields, long droughts can spell starvation. Earthquakes can send hillsides tumbling, volcanic eruptions can make thousands homeless. Altitude and steepness and vulnerability to pollution and climate change mean that mountain people are more at risk than ever. Poverty has forced people to build homes on hazard-prone slopes, and demographic pressures have pushed them to settle at the feet of volcanoes, and other seismically active areas.

Several initiatives highlight the way ahead and how to live with the risk, and benefiting from risk mapping, education and mountain development. The brochure on "Disaster Reduction for Sustainable Mountain Development" offers information on the issues at stake as well as concrete examples of disaster reduction solutions already in practice in mountain areas worldwide. A children's booklet on volcanoes and volcanic risk reduction has also been produced.

In Geneva, the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction is highlighted through the delivery of the United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction. The Award is sponsored by the Nippon Foundation, Japan, and is given every year to reward outstanding achievements by disaster reduction practitioners in their field. This year, the UN Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction goes to Professor Sergueï Balassanian, President of the Armenian Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth's Interior (AASPEI).

Several Certificates of Distinction and Merit are also awarded every year. The 2002 Certificates of Distinction go to Mr. Muhammad Saidur Rahman, Bangladesh, Director of the Bangladesh Disaster Preparedness Centre, Ms. Fernanda Teixeira, Secretary General of the Mozambique Red Cross, and the Emergency Monitoring and Forecasting Agency, Russian Federation. Certificates of Merit 2002 are given to United Nations Volunteers (UNV), Guatemala; Cruz Vermelha de Timor-Leste (CVTL), and Lt. Colonel Abbu Darwish, Jordan, Director of the Disasters Department of the Jordan Civil Defence. The ceremony will take place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva in room XII at 17:00 pm followed by a cocktail. Details on this year's awardees are attached.

For more information contact the ISDR Secretariat, Christel Rose, Tel: 022-917-2786,
rosec@un.org, www.unisdr.org

  © ONU/EIRD