Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015
Making development sustainable: The future of disaster risk management

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improvements in disaster management which have been so effective in reducing disaster mortality from floods and storms have not been as effective in the case of earthquakes.
Since 1990, around 85 per cent of internationally reported earthquake mortality has occurred in low and middle-income countries (Figure 2.4). In these countries, the number of exposed buildings increases exponentially with rapid economic development and urban growth. However, the quality of urban governance, including the application of building codes and planning standards, is generally weaker than in high-income countries (UNISDR, 2009a

UNISDR. 2009a,Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction: Risk and Poverty in a Changing Climate, Geneva, Switzerland: UNISDR.. .
For example, even in an upper middle-income country like Turkey, the 1999 earthquake—in which 17,000 people were killed—revealed that 65 per cent of apartment blocks in Istanbul and other cities had been built in violation of local building codes. Thus the high death toll highlighted the codes’ ineffective implementation system, partly enabled by widespread corruption that provided building inspectors with incentives to look the other way and allow deficient construction (Moullier, 2014

Moullier, Thomas. 2014,Improving Building Code Implementation and Compliance for More Resilient Buildings in Developing Countries: Considerations for Policy Makers, Concept note. October 2014.. .
In low-income countries in particular, a considerable proportion of development takes place in the informal sector, which by definition is unregulated. The situation is most critical in countries like Haiti that rarely experience major earthquakes and thus have low levels of risk awareness (Neumayer et al., 2012

Neumayer, Eric., Thomas Plümper and Fabian Barthel. 2012,The Political Economy of Natural Disaster Damage, February 2012.. .
), thus reducing the likelihood of risk-sensitive urban planning and building regulation even further.
As a result, while economic development may lead to declining weather-related mortality, it may actually bring about increases in earthquake mortality, as rapidly increasing exposure outpaces those reductions in vulnerability achieved through improved building and planning standards. As a country’s income rises,
(Source: UNISDR with data from EM-DAT.)
Figure 2.4 Earthquake mortality by income group, 1990-2013
these standards tend to improve. However, this does not translate into a visible reduction in mortality in the short term. It may take decades for the outcome of improved planning regulations and building standards to translate into reduced disaster losses, as a critical mass of new, risk-sensitive building and urban development has to be achieved. Therefore, countries that introduced a new seismic building code under the HFA may not see the results of their efforts until the middle of the century. As a result, while the number of buildings in areas exposed to earthquakes has increased considerably since 1990, the extent to which this has been offset by reductions in vulnerability is unclear.
Trends in earthquake mortality were not modelled in GAR11 due to issues with the underlying data. Given the infrequency of major earthquakes, it is not easy to find longitudinal comparisons between the impacts of similar events in the same region as was possible in the case of Odisha or Bangladesh. Events such as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake or the 1923 Tokyo earthquake have fortunately not repeated themselves to date.
At the same time, most disaster mortality is concentrated in very intensive disasters (Figure 2.5). More than 45 per cent of the total disaster
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