News / Africa

2011 Costliest Year in History for Catastrophes

The New Year sunrise lights up an area devastated by the March 2011 tsunami in Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture, January 1, 2012.
The New Year sunrise lights up an area devastated by the March 2011 tsunami in Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture, January 1, 2012.
Lisa Schlein

The United Nations reports 2011 was the costliest year in history for catastrophes. It says economic losses from natural disasters, including earthquakes, storms and floods, amounted to $366 billion.

The United Nations reports about 206 million people were affected by just more than 300 natural disasters in 2011. Of these, 30,000 people died.  

The United Nations says the number of natural disasters last year was lower than average for the past 10 years, though, and the number of deaths also is far lower than that recorded for 2010.

The director of the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at the University of Louvain, Belgium, Debarati Guha-Sapir, said the 2011 death toll is less because 2010 had several spectacular earthquakes.

“You are likely to get more deaths from earthquakes if it is a poor country than if it is a rich country. In this particular case, out of the 29,782 dead [in 2011] about two-thirds of it, about 20,000 of this comes directly from the tsunami and the earthquake in Japan,” said Guha-Sapir.

By comparison, the earthquake, which struck Haiti in January 2010, killed nearly 250,000 people.

Haiti’s economy suffered $8.5 billion in damages. But the Japan earthquake and tsunami in March caused economic losses of $210 billion, making it the costliest natural catastrophe of all time.

Japan, Thailand, New Zealand, the United States and China figure among the  top 10 disasters in terms of economic losses in 2011. The countries that had the most deaths include Japan, the Philippines, Brazil and Thailand.

The report notes the overwhelming number of deaths and economic damages were in Asia. Guha-Sapir said storms and floods account for nearly 70 percent of the world’s natural disasters. As such, she said, they have the greatest impact on humans.  

“One is by simply killing them," he said. "There is a lot of drowning, a lot of blunt trauma that happens and does not get picked up. There is an increase in diseases, an important increase in diseases by floods. And thirdly and most importantly is in malnutrition and hunger because agriculture losses are very high in these countries. Harvests are lost. Farmers and subsistence farmers and the children go hungry after a flood. Therefore you get pervasive malnutrition in areas where there have been floods."

Drought and famine end up causing a huge number of deaths, but Guha-Sapir said these deaths go uncounted, and a disaster such as that occurring in the Horn of Africa does not get counted in the statistics. She explained this is because people do not die of famine, they die from related causes, such as measles or organ failure and infections brought on by malnutrition.

You May Like

US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

Governors of several East Coast states close schools, order travel bans, urge people to stay home as snowfall, heavy winds, flooding continue in areas More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle with Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people were displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid