Philippines among countries most affected by disasters since 2000 â UN report
A resident collects wood for home use on a flooded rice field caused by Typhoon Kammuri in Ilagan on December 5, 2019.
AFP/Bill Visaya

Philippines among countries most affected by disasters since 2000 — UN report

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - October 13, 2020 - 11:48am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines—an archipelagic country vulnerable to natural hazards—was among the countries that recorded the highest number of disaster events from 2000 to 2019, the United Nations said in a report.

In a report titled “The Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019,” the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction said 7,348 disaster events had occurred over the last 20 years, claiming approximately 1.23 million lives and affecting over 4 billion people. These disasters also resulted in economic losses of US$ 2.97 trillion worldwide.

The figure represents a sharp increase from the 4,212 natural hazards recorded between 1980 and 1999.

On average, there were 367 disasters around the world each year, 44% of which were floods. Storms accounted for 28% of disaster events worldwide.

China was the country most affected by geophysical, hydrological and meteorological events, experiencing 577 events in total. The United States placed second with 467.

They were followed by India (321), the Philippines (304) and Indonesia (278).

The Philippines was included both in the lists of top 10 countries by total population affected by disasters (149 million) and top 10 nations most affected per 100,000 inhabitants (7,796) from 2000 to 2019.

The Global Climate Risk Index of environmental think tank Germanwatch identified the Philippines as among the nations most impacted by extreme weather events from 1999 to 2018. The country ranked fourth behind Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti.


By continent, Asia experienced the most disasters with 3,068 over the past 20 years, followed by the Americas with 1,756 and Africa with 1,192.

Eight of the top 10 countries that reported the highest number of disaster events were in Asia. These include China, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

“The high frequency and impact of disasters in Asia is largely due to the size of the continent and landscapes that represent a high risk of natural hazards, such as river basins, flood plains and seismic fault lines,” the report noted.

Warming climate

The report said that much of the disaster events recorded from 2000 to 2019 was due to a “significant rise” in the number of climate-related disasters, which include storm, drought, wildfire, flood and landslide.

Between 2000 and 2019, there were 510,837 deaths and 3.9 billion people affected by climate-related events. In the period of 1980 to 1999, there were 3,656 climate-related events.

Scientific evidence suggests that certain areas of the world will experience an increase in flooding and storm events as a result of climate change. The warming of the world’s temperatures is also expected to increase the risk of droughts.

“This report is a further reminder of the urgency of action on global heating in a world currently on course for a temperature increase of 3.2°C or more unless the industrial nations deliver reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 7.2% annually over the next ten years in order to achieve the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement,” the UN disaster risk office said.

Environment Secretary said the Philippines is leaning toward declaring a climate emergency to compel a whole-of-nation approach to address the worsening impacts of climate change.

Environmental groups have been calling on President Rodrigo Duterte to make a climate emergency declaration, which should put climate urgency at the center of policy decision making, hold fossil fuel industry accountable for driving global warming and demand industrialized nations to make ambitious emissions reduction targets.

Duterte, in his speech at the UN General Assembly in September, urged signatories to the Paris accord to honor their pledges for climate action.

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