Disasters “threaten emerging nations”

Natural disasters threaten to trigger widespread damage and distress in emerging economies, according to the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), a United Nations body, Reuters reported. “Most flood risk is concentrated in Asian countries,” it said, estimating that 75% of those at risk of dying in floods are concentrated in Bangladesh, India and China.

Many of the countries threatened around the world already are on the brink of disaster because of the global recession, said the ISDR report. It estimated that the share of the global economy at direct risk from floods has doubled since 1990. Compared to two decades ago, the Geneva-based agency said, 28% more people now are vulnerable to losing their homes, incomes and lives. 

One billion people live in hazard-prone slums and shantytowns in developing countries, according to the ISDR. In recent years of rapid growth, many of those countries overlooked safety standards. Local officials worldwide have turned a blind eye to poorly built homes, schools and other buildings and routinely ignored slums in low-lying and landslide-prone areas, it said. 

Major storms and weather-related emergencies are expected to increase because of climate change, the agency said, adding: “Many urban areas will also experience stress through water and energy shortages, heat and cold waves and more prevalent disease vectors.” Of particular concern as sea levels rise are Shanghai, Dhaka and Mumbai. 

Thailand and Indonesia also face substantial threats from floods, the report said. Bangladesh was listed as facing the highest mortality risk from cyclones, along with China, India, the Philippines, Myanmar and Madagascar. Most vulnerable to landslide fatalities are Ethiopia, Indonesia and India. China and India are most at risk from deaths in earthquakes, followed by Indonesia, El Salvador, Guatemala and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sub-Saharan African countries have the most people and crops exposed to drought risks.

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