Last month a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Ecuador left over 600 people dead and almost thirty thousand injured, with economic damages projected at more than $3 billion. Unfortunately, events like these are becoming all too commonplace. Impacts from natural disasters are on the rise, posing a growing threat to economies and the lives of millions of people around the world.
In fact, global losses from disasters have nearly quadrupled over the last few decades, from an average of $50 billion per year in the 1980s to close to $200 billion per year over the last decade. Poor people suffer the most in such situations – in the last 20 years, low-income countries experienced just over a quarter of floods, but bore nearly 90 percent of related casualties.
Trends like population growth and rising urbanization are driving losses in vulnerable regions. Up to 1.4 million people are moving into cities every week, with much of this growth – up to 90 percent through 2050 – happening in Africa and Asia. At the same time, climate change threatens push 100 million more people into poverty by 2030. Examples like these make it clear that disaster risk isn’t static, but rapidly evolving.
More governments, communities, and international organizations are learning that smart investments in preparedness and resilience can keep natural hazards from becoming human catastrophes. These investments can also have other benefits, like spurring jobs and economic growth, more educational opportunities, improved gender equality, environmental protection and can help meet demanding development goals by 2030.
Accurate and reliable disaster risk information is the lynchpin to achieve effective investments. According to the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR)—a World Bank-managed partnership of 34 countries and nine international organizations making a compelling case for governments to invest before a disaster strikes requires rapid, rigorous, and regular risk identification. With technology making disaster risk information more accessible than ever, people and governments worldwide are improving their ability to identify risk.