Keeping with general perception of increasing frequency and magnitude of disasters, world witnessed 7931 natural disaster incidences in the previous 20 years, i.e. 2003-22, registering an increase of 36.9% over the preceding twenty year period ending in 2002 (1983-2002).
37-40% incidences during both these periods occurred in Asia.
But then, negating the perception of steadily decreasing human life loss, 1310193 persons died due to natural disasters around the world in the period 2003-22 that was 5.30% more than that in the period 1983-2002.
In this period Caribbean region however witnessed 242093 disaster related deaths – 18.48% of the global total, despite accounting for just 3.72% disaster incidences. It is important to note that during the previous twenty year period (1983-2002) the Caribbean region had accounted for only 0.27% human deaths.
Abnormally high human deaths in the Caribbean region during 2003-22 are attributed to 2010 Haiti Earthquake and post-earthquake epidemic that killed 222570 and 6908 persons respectively, besides hurricane Jeanne and riverine floods of 2004 in Haiti and 2021 Haiti Earthquake that killed 2754, 2665 and 2575 persons respectively.
53.75% of the disaster induced deaths in the period 2003-22 were however caused by geophysical disasters followed by 28.06% by meteorological disasters and hydrological disasters accounted for only 9.41%.
In the period 1983-2002 most deaths (36.86%) were however caused by climatological disasters and geophysical disasters accounted for only 16.04% which was less than those by meteorological disasters (21.91%).
In the twenty year period, 2003-22, Asia witnessed 3154 disaster incidences that account for 39.77% of the global incidences and were 44.28% more than those experienced during 1983-2002. South Eastern Asia and Southern Asia respectively accounted for 33.42 and 29.30% of the incidences as against 28.87 and 34.54% respectively during 1983-2002.
2.7 billion persons were affected by disasters in Asia during 2003-22 and of these hydrological and climatological disasters respectively account for 49.96 and 25.70% respectively as against 56.58 and 29.70% respectively during 1983-2002.
This sharp rise in death toll is attributed to 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami that killed 165708, 1619 and 8345 persons respectively in Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand (South Eastern Asia) besides 16389 and 35399 respectively in India and Sri Lanka (Southern Asia), besides cyclone Nargis that killed 138336 persons in Myanmar (South Eastern Asia) in 2008 and 2005 Muzaffarabad Earthquake that killed 73338 persons in Pakistan (Southern Asia).
Scenario in India
In the period 2003-22 India accounted for 10.21% disaster incidences in Asia. It is important to note that the share of India in disaster induced deaths dropped to 8.06% in this period from 20.38% during 1983-2002.
Most disaster related deaths (50.42%) in the period 2003-22 were caused by hydrological disasters followed by 29.32% by geophysical disasters. As against this in the preceding 20 year period (1983-2002) geophysical, meteorological and hydrological disasters respectively accounted for 31.55, 27.99 and 27.02% human deaths.
Of the 627893957 persons affected by natural disasters during 2003-22 53.86 and 36.13% respectively were accounted for by climatological and hydrological disasters as against 55.07 and 39.13% respectively in the period 1983-2002.
Sharp rise in natural disaster induced death toll, particularly in Asia is a major cause of concern. The causative factors of these deaths call for promoting disaster resilient infrastructure and putting in place robust and effective warning generation and dissemination mechanism for both hydrological and meteorological disasters.
Supplementing these efforts with active risk communication to ensure voluntry compliance of risk reduction measures and promotion of risk transfer tools would be icing on the cake.
(Data received from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters; CRED is gratefully acknowledged and both raw and processed data can be shared on request)