London, Apr.10 : Poverty and inequalities make natural disasters much more lethal in South Asia, a study for Oxfam International has found.
According to the study titled "The Rethinking Disasters Report", when natural shocks such as cyclones or tidal waves hit Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal or Sri Lanka, deprivation in these areas was likely to turn events into a humanitarian crisis.
Oxfam's Regional Director for South Asia, Ashvin Dayal, was quoted by the Daily Express as saying: "The Kashmir earthquake killed 75,000 people. That's more than 12 times as many people as died in Japan's Great Hanshin earthquake, which was of similar strength. Why? Poverty, exclusion, inequality and unsuitable policies raise risks for poor people, women, and minorities especially."
The Rethinking Disasters report identified South Asia as the most disaster-prone area, where governments and charitable donations could make the biggest difference.
It urged governments to reduce the risk of disasters before they happened by tackling underlying problems that leave millions of people more vulnerable.
One of the report's authors, Shaheen Chughtai, said Bangladesh had managed to reduce the number of people who die in disasters by investing in cyclone shelters.
The humanitarian policy adviser, who is based in Nepal, pointed out that 43 percent of people affected by natural disasters lived in South Asia.
Looking at how humans can prevent disasters, the study said warning systems should be in place and that physical infrastructure can reduce hazards. It added that poverty must be tackled and politicians should redress inequalities in society.