Two Billion People Hit By Natural Disasters in the Past Decade
Over the last ten years (2008–2017), there were 3,751 natural hazards –3,157 (84.2%) of which have weather-related triggers, with floods and storms alone accounting for almost two-thirds of all incidents.
According to The World Disasters Report 2018 by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the number of floods (1,522) by far outstrips the number of storms (1,001), other weather-related incidents (634) and all other disaster triggers recorded over the period. Floods are estimated to have affected just under 730 million people – more than one third (37%) of the estimated 2 billion people affected by natural hazards between 2008 and 2017. However, floods accounted for a relatively small number of recorded deaths over the period, at 50,312, representing 7% of the total.
While affecting far fewer people than some of the other categories (338 million), the 1,001 storms account for a greater proportion of deaths, at 10%. Likewise, storms also represented a large proportion of the estimated disaster damages: 42% of the $1.658 billion between 2008 and the end of 2017.
Storms in the Americas accounted for just under a third (32%) of total estimated damages over the last ten years, more than 47% of which were caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017. Even more, only half of the 3,751 recorded natural hazards in 2008 to 2017 had associated data on damages: for example, just 0.5% of reported damages during this time relate to disasters in Africa.
Though likewise few in number, the largest killer remained earthquakes, causing 351,968 deaths during the decade and some 49% of the total. Earthquakes also represented the next largest share of recorded estimated damages over the period, much of which (20.9%) relates to earthquakes in Asia – mainly the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011.
The largest proportion (40.6%) of the 3,751 disasters recorded by the report over the last 10 years have taken place in Asia – the world’s most densely populated region and one that has experienced 69.5% of the last decade’s earthquakes, 69% of landslides, 43.7% of storms and 41.1% of floods. Asia also has by far the largest share of affected people (79.8% of the total over the period) and the largest share of estimated damages (45.4%), the report said.
While the data shows fewer disasters and people affected over the 2008 to 2017 period than the previous decade (9% less incidents and 29% less people affected), the report said that estimated damages more than doubled in the region from $326.6 billion to $752.2 billion.
The report said that this is chiefly attributable to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan (where damages were costed at $210 billion). Damages caused by floods are also estimated to have more than doubled (from $117 billion to $235 billion), while damage caused by storms and drought also increased.
The data shows China, the US, the Philippines, India and Indonesia to be the five countries most frequently hit by natural hazards over the last ten years. China and India alone account for 62.4% ($1.2 billion) of the two billion people estimated to have been affected by disasters since 2008. Seven of the worst-affected countries, in numbers of people affected, are in Asia.