Upward trend of mortality and economic losses from extensive risk in low and middle-income countries

Extensive mortality, 1990-2013 (65 countries, 2 Indian states) © UNISDR with data from national loss databases (UNISDR, 2015)


Since 2007, a sustained effort to assist countries in systematically recording local disaster losses (UNISDR, 2009, 2011, 2013) has generated systematic and comparable evidence regarding the scale of extensive risk from over 80 countries.

Across these countries, extensive disasters are responsible for only 14 per cent of total disaster mortality. However, since 1990 extensive mortality has increased almost fourfold in those countries that have consistent data spanning that period (Figure), and the trend is statistically significant. In global loss datasets, there is also a statistically significant trend towards increasing mortality in events with fewer than 100 deaths. Importantly, extensive disaster mortality is also increasing relative to population size.

Extensive risk critically erodes development assets. In the last decade, losses due to extensive risk in 85 countries and territories were equivalent to a total of US$94 billion. In those countries with consistent datasets (65 and 2 states), since 1990 reports show that the majority of damage and loss are associated with extensive disasters. These reported economic losses show a statistically significant upward from 1990 onward. Although these trends also reflect improved reporting in some countries, this has only a low to moderate influence on the overall trends.

The increasing level of extensive risk shows how countries have not been able to address the underlying risk drivers, including poverty and inequality, environmental degradation, badly planned and managed urban development, vulnerable rural livelihoods and weak governance. It is in reducing losses in the social and economic assets of communities where countries have gained the least traction since the creation of the Hyogo Framework for Action.