World Risk Index: The Human Factor in Natural Disasters

Natural disasters strike without warning, but government preparation and regulations on infrastructure contribute to saving lives, suggests the World Risk Index from United Nations University researchers and development organizations. Shallow earthquakes struck Haiti and New Zealand each in 2010, reports Axel Bojanowski. In Haiti, more than 100,000 lost their lives while New Zealand suffered property damage. Other factors also contribute – including population density; exposure of housing, communities, power systems and transportation routes to specific risks; economic output and food supply; levels of medical care and education; political stability; and early-warning systems. Due to vulnerability, Japan is ranked 17th, the highest of developed nations. Canada; much of Europe, though not the Netherlands; and some of the Middle East are described as having very low risk. “Despite the apparently precise rankings, the calculations used by the World Risk Report are not based on exact measurements, but on approximate estimates made by thousands of experts,” Bojanowski explains. “The report places particular emphasis on infrastructure.” – YaleGlobal

World Risk Index: The Human Factor in Natural Disasters

The 2016 World Risk Index shows that infrastructure is key factor in ability to withstand events like hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes and other disasters
Axel Bojanowski
Friday, August 26, 2016

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“Whether it be an earthquake or a tsunami, a cyclone or floods, the risk of a natural event turning into a disaster always depends only partly on the force of the natural event itself. The living conditions of the people in the regions affected and the options available to respond quickly and to provide assistance are just as significant,” notes the introduction to the World Risk Index report. “Those who are prepared, who know what to do in the event of an extreme natural event, have a greater chance of survival.”

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