Extreme weather events affected 60m people in 2018

Earthquakes and tsunamis accounted for the majority of the 10,733 lives lost in disasters last year while extreme weather events accounted for most of 61.7 million people affected by natural hazards, according to analysis of 281 events recorded by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) in its EM-DAT (International Disaster Database).

Seismic activity including earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic activity disrupted the lives of 3.4 million people last year and claimed more lives than any other hazard type.

Floods continued to affect the largest number of people, 35.4 million people. Storms affected 12.8 million people last year and caused a recorded 1,593 deaths. It is anticipated that storms, particularly due to hurricanes Florence (14 billion USD) and Michael (16 billion USD) and typhoon Jebi (12.5 billion USD), will be the costliest type of disaster of 2018 once final economic losses are compiled.

Wildfires in Europe and North America claimed a record number of lives as Greece (126) had the deadliest European wildfire on record, and the United States (88) had its deadliest wildfire in over a century, and costliest wildfire on record (estimated 16.5 billion USD).

The CRED statistics highlight that 9.3 million people were affected by drought worldwide. Debarati Guha-Sapir, head of CRED at UCLouvain, said: “The impact of all disasters, particularly drought and extreme temperatures are notoriously poorly reported, especially from low-income countries. The human impact of these events, are difficult to quantify, but it needs to be done urgently, especially in order to report on specific SDG target indicators. Therefore, innovative approaches that measure progress in resilience and the adaptive capacity of communities needs to be addressed by appropriate UN agencies.”

UN member States are committed to reducing disaster losses and implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030), the global plan for reducing disaster losses which has a clear focus on reducing mortality and the numbers of disaster affected people, as well as reducing associated economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure.

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