Aon Benfield Natural Hazard Centre Hosts African Workshop on Disasters

February 3, 2011

Aon Benfield announced that its Natural Hazard Centre in South Africa at the University of Pretoria has hosted the first “ENHANS International Workshop on Extreme Natural Hazards and Disaster Risk in Africa.

“The event brought together Africa’s leading global experts in natural hazards, disaster risk analysis and risk management, who will continue to pool their expertise to mitigate and manage the consequences of extreme natural hazards across the continent,” said the bulletin.

Professor Andrzej Kijko of the Aon Benfield Natural Hazard Centre noted: “Africa is a continent with enormous natural disaster risks. In comparison with developed countries such as Australia, Japan or the U.S. which are able to recover from natural disasters at a relatively quick pace, most of Africa’s inhabitants are very poor and may lose everything when extreme natural hazards like floods, droughts or earthquakes occur.”

Dr. Keith Alverson, Director of the Global Ocean Observing System, added: “There is a growing need for more awareness from the government on the implications of extreme natural hazards for the African continent. Preventative disaster measures need to be monitored and the results regularly communicated to the authorities. For example, while water supplies are checked regularly for hygiene purposes, there is not as much emphasis on testing sprinkler systems to ensure they would work effectively in the event of a fire.”

Dr Alik Ismail-Zadeh, Leader of the Extreme Natural Hazards and Societal Implications (ENHANS) Project and Secretary-General of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, pointed out that a natural disaster “should not be considered just as a natural phenomenon but as an extreme societal event affecting people and infrastructure. There are needs for integrated research and education on natural and human-induced environmental disaster risks. In response, a decade-long program – Integrated Research on Disaster Risks – has been recently developed by the International Council for Science together with the International Social Sciences Council and the United Nation’s International Platform for Disaster Reduction.”

Pieter Visser, Catastrophe Analyst for Aon Benfield Analytics in South Africa, indicated: “Research is crucial to understanding the risks facing Africa. Working with its academic partners, Aon Benfield Research uses our findings to improve catastrophe models and provide insurers, our clients, with the high quality information they need to assess risk and provide cover.”

Source: Aon Benfield

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