Friday, January 30, 2009

Disaster-related deaths and economic losses jump in 2008

The Center for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) released disaster figures for 2008 at a joint press conference with UNISDR in Geneva on 22 January.

The figures showed a marked increase in deaths and economic losses in 2008 from disasters compared to the 2000-2007 yearly average. Disasters in 2008: Killed 235,816 people – three times more than the annual average of 66,812 for 2000-2007. The death toll is attributed to two major events:
Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar (138,366 dead) and the Sichuan earthquake in China (87,476 dead).
Affected 211 million people – below the 2000-2007 annual average of 231 million.
Caused economic losses of US$178 billion – double the annual average for 2000-2007 of US$81 billion. The Sichuan earthquake alone caused half of the total damages (US$85 billion).
Analysis of the disaster figures revealed that 2008 was the third costliest year in the last 20 years. 2008 also marked the first year in which middle income countries were the main contributors of economic loss. According to Professor Debarati Guha-Sapir, Director of CRED, "As countries move up the development
ladder, their economic vulnerability tends to increase. Ideally, these countries need to invest more in disaster risk reduction measures if they want to better protect development gains."
The 2008 disasters in numbers fact sheet is available at