Disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis are pushing more people into poverty, but there is some good news too

Apr 27, 2022

By: Vaamanaa Sethi

Geophysical disasters are at an all-time high

Geophysical disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes, climate- and weather-related disasters have increased from 90–100 per year between 1970 to 2000 to 350–500 per year between 2001 to 2020.

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Number of disasters may increase even further

According to the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2022 (GAR 2022), the number of disasters per year globally may increase from around 400 in 2015 to 560 per year by 2030 – a projected increase of 40 percent.

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Droughts are more likely to happen

The report says that current trends indicate a likely increase of more than 30 percent between 2001 and 2030, from an average of 16 drought events per year during 2001–2010 to 21 per year by 2030.

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Extreme temperature events also increasing

The number of extreme temperature events per year is also increasing; based on current trends, it will almost triple between 2001 and 2030, the report says.

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Increase in average maximum temperature

The report further highlights that the world is set to exceed the Paris Agreement’s target of 1.5°C global average maximum temperature increase by the early 2030, further accelerating the pace and severity of hazard events.

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Small disasters

A staggering 99.7 percent of all disaster events between 1990 and 2013 were smaller disasters involving fewer than 30 deaths or fewer than 5,000 houses destroyed.Thousands of these smaller-scale events are unreported every year because they do not generate high impacts at the national or international levels.

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Poverty is a major consequence of disasters

The poor are more likely to be exposed and therefore affected by hazards and are more likely to depend on fragile infrastructure and housing.They also lose a much greater proportion of their income and assets than non-poor people when disasters strike, says the report.

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But there is some good news

Over the course of one generation, 1.2 billion people have moved out of extreme poverty. The share of the world’s population living in extreme poverty declined from 15.7 percent to 10.0 percent between 2010 and 2015, but had decreased only by a further 1.8 percentage points to 8.2 percent in 2019.

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More people will be pushed into extreme poverty

The report predicts that an additional 37.6 million people will be living in conditions of extreme poverty due to the impacts of climate change by 2030. Meanwhile, under the “worst-case” or no action scenario, climate change will push an additional 100.7 million into poverty by 2030

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Growing economic losses

Disasters are not only claiming lives and pushing people into poverty but are also increasing the economic losses associated with all disasters. On a global level, including all geophysical, climate and weather-related disasters, it has averaged approximately $170 billion loss per year over the past decade, with peaks in 2011 and 2017 when losses soared to over $300 billion.

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Asia Pacific region bear economic losses the most

At regional level, the highest share of economic loss is borne within Asia and the Pacific, where countries lose on average 1.6 percent of GDP to disasters. Africa is the second most affected region, with an average disaster-related economic loss of 0.6 percent of GDP.

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