Leaders must put people first to limit horrors of future disasters

Leaders must put people first to limit horrors of future disasters
People stand among debris and ruins of houses destroyed after Super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines November 10, 2013.

SINGAPORE- Future stories of natural disasters need not be so devastatingly horrific if leaders across the many economies in the region and the world can get their act together and serve the people ("Prepare for the next horror that surely will come"; Nov17).

The warning signals of global warming have been there for years, especially for disaster-prone countries.

Yet some governments prefer to ignore the omens and indulge in showpiece developments, when there are fundamental priorities that demand greater attention.

With the climate becoming even more unpredictable, it is the moral responsibility of leaders in both the private and public sectors to meet the basic needs of their respective societies for inclusive growth.

This means investing in core infrastructure - from reinforced housing with utilities such as basic sanitation to dykes - to limit the damage from natural calamities like earthquakes and typhoons at both the local and national levels.

Governments must always place basic human needs above politicking if they are serious about removing their economies and countries from the vicious circle of brain-drained dependency.

A strong infrastructural backbone is not just a defence mechanism against climate change, but is also a tool to harness the potential of countries and alleviate poverty for sustainable socio-economic development.

Typhoon Haiyan is an absolute tragedy in so many ways.

One can only pray and hope that those who lost their lives did not do so in vain.

Toh Cheng Seong

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