Handbook for Disaster Assessment

Manual and Guideline
Originally published
View original


ECLAC Launches a New Edition of the Handbook for Disaster Assessment

Since 1972, this organization has participated in the damage evaluation of more than 90 catastrophes that were responsible for around 310,000 deaths and affected the lives of 34 million people.

(April 24, 2014) The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) launched today in Jamaica the third edition of the Handbook for Disaster Assessment, updating the methodology established by this United Nations' regional organization, which has participated in damage evaluation of more than 90 catastrophes in the region since 1972.

The handbook presentation was held in Kingston, Jamaica's capital, and was attended by ECLAC's Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, and the organization's Director of the Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean, Diane Quarless, as well as the Foreign Ministers of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Camillo Gonsalves, and Saint Lucia, Alva Baptiste.

"We are confident that this handbook will prove to be a useful reference tool for policy-makers in a region susceptible to nature's vicissitudes, given its imperative to recognize this condition in designing its public policies", stressed Alicia Bárcena.

This handbook reflects and updates the work that ECLAC has done in recent decades to establish a methodology for estimating the economic consequences of a disaster, and thus determine the financing required to rebuild and return the affected area to normal.

Since 1972, when the organization assessed the consequences of the earthquake that struck Nicaragua that year, ECLAC has taken part in more than 90 estimations of the social, environmental and economic impacts of disasters in 28 countries in the region.

Most of the disasters studied by the Commission have climatic or geophysical origins and killed 311,127 people between 1972 and 2001, affected the lives of another 34 million and had a total economic impact of around 213 billion dollars, at 2000 prices. Of this amount, 140 billion dollars correspond to damages and 70 billion to losses.

In 1991, ECLAC launched the first edition of the handbook for disaster assessment, which details the methodology and experience gained to date. That methodology was adopted by the World Bank in countries outside the region and has been now used in 40 countries on other continents, mainly Africa and Asia.

The Commission published the second edition of the document in 2003, helping to transmit this methodology to governments in the region, experts and civil society.

The handbook's third edition, which is being presented now, strengthens procedures for estimating the effects of disasters, for distinguishing between losses and additional costs and systematizing the links that exist between different sectors of the economy.

This project had the collaboration of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and was partially funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the United Nations Development Account Programme.

Any queries should be sent to ECLAC's Public Information Unit.

E-mail:; Telephone: (56 2) 2210 2040.