Natural disasters - types of disasters

PW Disaster risk

Components of risk Risk drivers Key Concepts Statistics reports Terminology

While absolute economic losses are concentrated in high-income countries, the human cost of disasters falls overwhelmingly on low và middle-income countries.

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2022 snapshot

*The figures bởi not represent biological disasters.

The invisible toll of disasters The estimated insured losses from disasters are a staggering US $120 billion — but they represent just the tip of the iceberg.
Overall losses in US$ b (Munich Re)270280210166
Uninsured losses in US$ b (Munich Re)150160128109
Insured losses in US$ b (Munich Re)1201208257
Recorded events (CRED)387407380505
Deaths (CRED)30,70418,27417,66427,199
People affected in million (CRED)185103.597.6109.2
People displaced by disasters in million (IDMC)8.723.7724.9
People in million living in acute food insecurity driven by weather extremes (FSIN)


12 countries


8 countries


15 countries


25 countries

14.9 million excess deaths were associated with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 & 2021. Excess mortality includes deaths associated with COVID-19 directly (due lớn the disease) or indirectly (due khổng lồ the pandemic’s impact on health systems and society).

Yet, these reported losses only represent the tip of the iceberg.

"You cannot manage your disaster risk if you are not measuring your losses." - Mami Mizutori, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction

Under-reported small-scale và slow-onset disasters

Tens of thousands of small-scale disasters occur each year throughout the world because of flooding, landslides, fires và storms. These events are not reported in international databases. Yet, their impact can be just as damaging as large disasters, causing death, injury và loss of livelihoods. An analysis of records in 104 countries found that between 2005 and 2017, small & medium, localized & frequent disasters caused 68% of all economic losses. These losses are a major driver of poverty as they tend to be absorbed by low-income households và communities, small businesses, and local & national governments.

Similarly, losses from slow-onset hazards such as droughts are not always fully accounted for. Their effect often accumulates slowly over an extended period và their impacts are difficult khổng lồ measure. When slow-onset disasters are added to lớn the Asia-Pacific region’s riskscape, annualized economic losses more than quadruple to USD $675 billion or around 2.4 percent of the region’s GDP (compared lớn previous estimates).

Indirect & intangible losses

Direct losses refer to the physical or structural impact caused by the disaster such as the destruction of infrastructure resulting from high winds, flooding or ground shaking. Indirect effects are the subsequent or secondary results of the initial destruction, such as business interruption losses. A full consideration of all direct, indirect, & intangible losses would produce much higher loss estimates than the more easily quantified và commonly seen records of direct loss.


Lost productivity

Severe disasters have lasting effects on productivity. Analysis from the World ngân hàng finds that during 1960-2018, climate disasters reduced annual productivity by an average of 0.5 percent. After three years, severe climate disasters lower labor productivity by about 7 percent, mainly through weakened total factor productivity.

Severe biological disasters can also cause persistent damage lớn productivity. Four epidemics since 2000 (SARS, MERS, Ebola, và Zika) had significant & persistent negative effects on productivity. They lowered productivity by 4 percent after three years.

Supply chains disruptions

The impact of local disasters can also be felt across the global economy. After Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in 2017, a major wholesale medical supply company in San Juan was unable khổng lồ maintain production. As a result, hospitals across the United States faced a critical shortage và a 600% increase in the cost of intravenous bags.

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Research has found that intensifying river floods caused by global warming will affect the European Union and the United States predominantly by indirect losses passed down along the global trade & supply network. In the US, In the US, direct losses from riverine floods are expected to be around 30 billion US dollars, whereas indirect losses could reach 170 billion US dollars in the next đôi mươi years.

Lost investment

Disasters also divert funding from investments to finance the rebuilding costs. Khổng lồ really understand the economic costs of a disaster, growth accounting considers the productive use of capital và innovation. In the US for instance, hurricanes caused $306 billion in damages in 2017 and $91 billion in 2018. As a result, productive investment fell about $400 billion in total in those years.

Mental health

Disasters can also impact mental health. People whose homes are damaged by storms or flooding are significantly more likely lớn experience mental health issues such as depression và anxiety. In the UK, the estimated mental health cost from flooding events ranges from £1,878 lớn £4,136 per adult, depending on the magnitude of the flood.

Lost education

Children and youth affected by disasters often miss school, owing to displacement, the destruction of facilities or the use of school buildings as temporary shelters. School closures not only undermine education, they also hamper the provision of essential services in vulnerable communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the most severe disruption in the world’s education systems in history. According to UNESCO, nearly 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries, 94% of the world’s student population, were affected by the closure of educational institutions at the peak of the crisis.

The number of deaths from natural disasters can be highly variable from year-to-year; some years pass with very few deaths before a large disaster sự kiện claims many lives.If we look at the average over the past decade, approximately 45,000 people globally died from natural disasters each year. This represents around 0.1% of global deaths.

In the visualizations shown here we see the annual variability in the number & share of deaths from natural disasters in recent decades.

What we see is that in many years, the number of deaths can be very low – often less than 10,000, & accounting for as low as 0.01% of total deaths. But we also see the devastating impact of shock events: the 1983-85 famine and drought in Ethiopia; the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake & tsunami; Cyclone Nargis which struck Myanmar in 2008; and the 2010 Port-au-Prince earthquake in Haiti. All of these events pushed global disasters deaths over 200,000 – more than 0.4% of deaths in these years.

Low-frequency, high-impact events such as earthquakes & tsunamis are not preventable, but such high losses of human life are. We know from historical data that the world has seen a significant reduction in disaster deaths through earlier prediction, more resilient infrastructure, emergency preparedness, and response systems.Those at low incomes are often the most vulnerable lớn disaster events: improving living standards, infrastructure và response systems in these regions will be key lớn preventing deaths from natural disasters in the coming decades.


Globally, over the past decade, natural disasters accounted for an average of 0.1% of total deaths. This was, however, highly variable to lớn high-impact events and ranged from 0.01% to 0.4% of total deaths.

In the maps shown here you can explore these trends by country over the past few decades. Using the timeline on the chart you can observe changes across the world over time, or by clicking on a country you can see its individual trend.

What we observe is that for most countries the chia sẻ of deaths from natural disasters are very low in most years. Often it can be zero – with no loss of life to lớn disasters – or well below 0.01%. But we also see clearly the effects of low-frequency but high-impact events: in 2010, more than 70% of deaths in Haiti were the result of the Port-au-Prince earthquake.

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