Red Cross Warning as Climate Change Boosts World Disaster Toll
6 July 2009 at 4:46 pm
The world’s second deadliest disaster toll year in a decade has prompted a call from Red Cross to focus on early warning and early action.
Releasing the 2009 World Disasters Report in Australia, Red Cross says 2008 was one of the deadliest years in recent history with 225,842 natural disaster fatalities, and again Asia Pacific was the hardest hit region on earth.
Two disasters alone in China and Myanmar accounted for 93% of the global death toll. Cyclone Nargis left more than 138,000 dead and the Sichuan earthquake killed 87,000.
Red Cross says that in the last 33 years, there have been eight years in which over 100,000 have died from natural disasters and three of these have occurred in the last six years; 2003, 2004 and 2008.
It says the number of disaster events each year is steadily rising, from around 100 in 1975 to over 400 in each of the last nine years.
Red Cross Director of Services and International Operations, Mr Michael Raper says the global community responds well when disaster strikes, but more money and energy needs to be invested in prevention and protection.
Raper says a new approach is needed to build a much greater emphasis on early warning and early action.
He says the trend for more severe disasters has recently been highlighted by the devastation of the Black Saturday Bushfires in Victoria and the floods in North Queensland.
According to the Report, the stability and sustainability of the planet is under threat and climate change is one of the main causes.
Raper says climate risk management must now be incorporated into decision making at all levels in areas such as agriculture, food security, building codes, urban planning, water resources and health. Early warning and early action is the key to this.
He says public money buys about four times more humanitarian relief if it is spent ahead of disasters, rather than on response measures alone.
Here’s the World Disasters Report 2009 in numbers…
• 220,000,000 Number of ‘food insecure’ people worldwide in 2008
• 213,000,000 People affected by disasters worldwide in 2008
• 46,000,000 Number of people affected by the Sichuan earthquake
• 18,000,000 IFRC’s short-notice emergency fund (in Swiss francs)6,000,000 ‘Food insecure’ Zimbabweans at start of 2009
• 5,000,000 Number of Ethiopians who need emergency food aid this year
• 225,842 Number of people killed in disasters in 2008
• 5,000 Number of Bangladesh Red Crescent volunteers who sounded alarm before Cyclone Sidr struck in 2007
• 1,511 Number of active volcanoes in the world
• 90% Proportion of world’s malaria cases occurring in sub-Saharan Africa
• 80% Proportion of Cambodian population living within flood distance of Mekong river
• 75% Proportion of total Pacific tsunami alerts that are false alarms
• 59% Proportion of IFRC emergency grants that are weather related
• 12.5% Proportion of recommended number of weather stations in sub-Saharan Africa that actually exit
• 10% Proportion of world’s population living near an active volcano
• 6 Number of months it takes to get internationally-procured aid to ‘food insecure’ beneficiaries
[Sources: IFRC, CRED, Oxfam, Care. Figures apply to 2008 unless otherwise stated.]