Disasters Put Developmental Achievements at Risk, But Development Choices Themselves Can Generate Disaster Risks
UNDP points out that three quarters of all human beings live in areas that have at least once been affected by earthquakes, tropical cyclones, catastrophic floods, or droughts between 1980 and 2000. On average, about 220 million people worldwide are exposed to drought every year; 196 million to catastrophic flooding; 130 million to earthquake risk; and 119 million to tropical cyclone hazard.
The poor are disproportionately vulnerable: While only 11 percent of the people exposed to natural hazards live in countries characterized by “low human development,” they account for more than 53 percent of total recorded disaster deaths.
Many areas that are subject to natural hazards also suffer from complex political emergencies. Armed conflict and poor governance are factors that in some cases turn low rainfall episodes into famine events; the report points to the 2002 food crisis in southern Africa as an example.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Reducing Disaster Risk: A Challenge for Development, April 2004.