A farmer stands in a dry field in the Bouskoura village, outside Casablanca, Morocco February 3, 2016. Picture taken February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal – RTX25DQ2
BARCELONA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Weather and climate extremes were a factor in more than 90 percent of natural disasters in 2015, new figures from an international disaster database show.
In the hottest year on record, with temperatures pushed up by global warming and a strong El Niño weather phenomenon, 32 major droughts were recorded.
That was more than double the 10-year annual average from 2005 to 2014, according to the Belgium-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED).
“The main message from this trends analysis is that reducing greenhouse gases and adapting to climate change is vital for countries seeking to reduce disaster risk now and in the future,” said Robert Glasser, head of the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).
Here are some facts and figures on natural disasters in 2015:
* The death toll from 346 major reported disasters last yearwas 22,773, including 8,831 deaths caused by an earthquake inNepal in April. Overall, disaster deaths were considerably downon the 10-year average of 76,424 deaths. * The Nepal disaster confirmed that quakes are the mostdeadly natural hazard category, highlighting the importance ofensuring compliance with building codes, the UNISDR said. * The top five most disaster-hit countries in 2015 wereChina (26 disasters), the United States (22), India (19), thePhilippines (15) and Indonesia (11). * Droughts affected 50.5 million people in 2015, well abovethe 10-year average of 35.4 million. Many of the droughts havecontinued into 2016, particularly in Africa, the UNISDR noted. * Floods have traditionally affected the most people in anygiven year, but were in second place in 2015, with 152 floodsaffecting 27.5 million people and claiming 3,310 lives. * The UNISDR said national disaster management agencies inAsia have done well in reducing death tolls from storms throughearly warnings and timely evacuations, especially in thePhilippines, China, Japan and Pacific small island states. * 996 fatalities were recorded in a total of 90 storms lastyear, compared to an annual average death toll of 17,778 from2005 to 2014. * Record global temperatures in 2015 contributed to a majorloss of life from heatwaves, including a total of 7,346 deaths,mainly in France, India and Pakistan. Mortality from extremetemperatures is underestimated and better evaluation of theirimpact is needed, CRED said.Sources: Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (EM-DAT database – http://www.emdat.be/database) and U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR)
(Reporting by Megan Rowling; editing by Ros Russell. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change.