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GFDRR Programs: Disaster Risk Reduction Building Resilience in Changing Climate


Clear and Present Danger

Every year, natural disasters from climate-related hazards cause substantial loss of life, produce economic damage, and reverse gains from past economic and social development. Between 1991 and 2005, hydrometeorological hazards, such as floods, storms, and droughts, accounted for more than three-quarters of all natural disasters. In the same period, these climate-related disasters were responsible for 98 percent of the cumulative number of people affected by natural disasters and 77 percent of total reported economic damage. In the least developing countries (LDCs) in particular, climate-related disasters accounted for 89 percent of the total economic damages.

In the developing world, the majority of the population depends on climatesensitive sectors, such as agriculture and forestry, for livelihood and sustenance. Their vulnerability is further compounded by their limited capacity to assess climate risks and by lack of available weather information required to plan adaptive responses. People in these countries are more likely to be severely affected by climate-related diseases, such as influenza, diarrhea, cholera, meningitis, dengue, and malaria. Weak infrastructure, poor communication networks, intermittent electricity supply, low public awareness, and insufficient resources hamper provision of timely advice on climate and early warning. Without such information, a proactive approach to risk management cannot be fully implemented.

Climate change is projected to increase disaster risks by altering average climatic conditions, exacerbating greater climate variability, increasing extreme weather events, and posing greater overall risks for people in developing countries. This includes the possible occurrence of new threats in regions where they did not previously exist. Climate change is projected to result in decreased water availability and crop productivity in many parts of the world, as well as loss of plant and animal species and associated ecosystem services. Climate change-induced food insecurity, inundation, asset losses, and population displacement could generate conflict and insecurity from the competition for land, housing, water, and other resources