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The human factor

There is a strong link between national income (gross national product per capita) and mortality from disaster events. This means that the risk of dying in a disaster is significantly lower in higher-income countries.

Recent disaster economic losses hide the relatively greater burden of disasters on the poor. When economic costs are expressed as an average percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), this becomes clearer.

Data reported in 2018 by UNISDR identified that only one high-income territory ranked among the top 10 in terms of percentage of GDP losses over the past 20 years (Puerto Rico). Apart from upper-middle-income Cuba, the other worst-hit nations were all lower-income countries, led by Haiti.

It is the economic, demographic, environmental and institutional factors that influence the social characteristics profile of a country or region which may place its people at greater risk before, during and after a disaster.

Not only are those countries with the lowest Human Development Index (HDI) most at risk of disaster, recovery from disaster in these countries takes longer. This leads to these nations becoming stuck in a downward spiral of incomplete recovery and underdevelopment (Padli, Habibullah and Baharom 2018).

Your task

Look at the infographics in chapter one (pages 6-13) of the UNISDR and CRED report:

Wallemarq, P., Below, R., and McLean, D. (2018) UNISDR and CRED report: Economic Losses, Poverty & Disasters (1998–2017). Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) [online] available from https://www.unisdr.org/files/61119_credeconomiclosses.pdf

We have already discussed the difference between the number of hazard-related events and the people affected. Now consider the relationships between economic losses, deaths and the people affected. What are the factors driving the differences between these trends?


References

Wallemarq, P., Below, R., and McLean, D. (2018) UNISDR and CRED report: Economic Losses, Poverty & Disasters (1998–2017). Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) [online] available from https://www.unisdr.org/files/61119_credeconomiclosses.pdf

Padli J., Habibullah M.S., and Baharom A.H. (2018) ‘The Impact of Human Development on Natural Disaster Fatalities and Damage: Panel Data Evidence’. Economic Research-Ekonomska Istraživanja 31 (1), 1557-1573

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This article is from the free online course:

Disaster Risk Reduction: An Introduction

Coventry University