CredCrunch Newsletter, Issue No. 26, December 2011- "Disaster Data: A Balanced Perspective”
Natural disasters in the American continent
In the last decade, the American continent suffered from 922 natural disasters, killing more than 247 thousand people, affecting over 82 million others and causing at least US$ 487 billion of economic damages. The Americas were the second most affected continent by natural disasters, after Asia, in terms of disaster occurrence and people killed. However the Americas took the largest share of economic damages during the decade (46% of worldwide damages).
Whereas large countries such as the United States, Brazil, but also Mexico top the list of most affected countries, this ranking is different when looking at the number of people killed or affected relative to a country's population. Other countries such as Haiti, Grenada and El Salvador, which had a large proportion of their population affected by disasters, then come into the spotlights.
Preliminary EM-DAT figures for 2011 show a decrease in natural disaster occurrence and impacts in the Americas, compared to the last decade, although final figures cannot be provided until the year has ended. Nevertheless, the Americas suffered from severe disasters in 2011. Parts of Brazil were severely flooded several times during the year, causing over 850 fatalities and affecting nearly 1.2 million others. In Colombia, more than 1.3 million people were affected by floods and 207 lives were lost. Storms in the United States killed over 580 people, affected nearly 18 thousand and caused US$ 22 billion economic damages.
Whereas in 2011 storms and floods equally had the highest percentage of disaster occurrence in the Americas, it were floods that caused the most deaths and affected most people.
Monitoring disaster occurrence and impacts is needed to profile the countries and regions most in need of assistance, and to guide strategies for disaster risk reduction.
Debarati Guha-Sapir, Director