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New research on natural disasters: Saving Lives Today, Building Resilience for Tomorrow

The rapid growth in the number of people living in cities and urban landscapes is increasing the world’s susceptibility to natural disasters, according to this new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The report, titled Natural Disasters: Saving Lives Today, Building Resilience Tomorrow, calls for a much greater focus on preparing people for possible extreme natural events and building disaster resilience among locals.

According to this report, about 78,000 people are killed annually in natural disasters and another 200 million (or about 3 per cent of the human population) are directly affected by them. Economic loss from these tragedies stretches across the globe and amounts to around US $100 billion a year, the report says, while citing the instance of tsunami that hit Japan in 2011.

As the report explains,  the trend of global urbanisation shows that 75 per cent of the world's population would be living in towns and cities by 2050, with 95 per cent of this expansion being anticipated in developing countries. The movement of more and more people into less resilient areas like coastal regions, flood plains and earthquake-prone zones has been cited as one of the factors responsible for more natural disasters. Degradation of natural environment is another cause for increasing calamities. The report cites unplanned expansion and development in disaster-prone areas as another reason for increased disasters and mentions recent flooding in Uttarakhand in India as an example.

Key findings of the report:

  • On an average, about 78,000 people are killed annually in natural disasters, with a further 200 million (or about 3 per cent of the human population) directly affected by it. Economic losses running into about US $100 billion.
  • Man-made changes have removed the natural barriers which had been protecting the Earth against extreme natural events
  • Rapid growth of economic activity, human population and urbanisation in Asia-Pacific countries has rendered the region more vulnerable to the effects of extreme natural events.
  • Between 1980-2009, about 38 per cent of disaster-related economic losses, from across the globe, occurred in Asia, which shows the continent is 25 times more susceptible to natural disasters than Europe.


To download the report, please visit this website.


 


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