YANGON - Between 2008 and 2013, when Myanmar remained largely closed off to the rest of the world, it suffered a terrible toll at the hands of nature that remained largely unknown.
In those five years, the country of 60 million suffered at least eight major natural calamites that killed more than 141,000 people and affected 3.2 million.
The worst of these was Cyclone Nargis in May 2008 that killed more than 130,000 and affected 2.4 million.
Myanmar has been vulnerable to increasing extreme weather events like many of its neighbours. But as the Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group of Myanmar noted in an extensive analysis last year of the nation’s disaster preparedness levels, the dangers have been amplified because the country has been slow to take remedial measures against changing climate patterns.
The East Asian country’s ranking 167 out of 176 countries surveyed by The Global Adaptation Institute “is as much a reflection of Myanmar’s exposure to climate change as it is of the country’s low capacity to manage climate risks,” the report said.
Such under-preparedness comes at a terrible cost. The same report found that over 2.6 million people live in areas vulnerable to natural disasters ranging from cyclones in the south to earthquakes in the north.
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