Friday November 22, 2019

UN: Most Deaths From Natural Disasters Occur in Poor Countries

The report,“Poverty & Death: Disaster Mortality 1996-2015,” finds 90 percent of these disaster deaths occur in low-and-middle-income countries

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In this photo taken Jan. 26, 2016, Mayrem Humeyisu talks about food supply in her neighborhood in a rural village Dubti Woreda, Afar, Ethiopia.(VOA)
  • The report, however, notes over the last 15 years, weather-related disasters including drought, heat waves, floods and storms have become the main cause of loss of life
  • Haiti is a prime example. Glasser notes that it suffered a devastating earthquake in 2010 and just last week was hit by Hurricane Matthew. The carribean island has lost more lives to natural hazards than any other country

Geneva, October 14, 2016: A new report finds more than a million people have been killed in more than 7,000 natural disasters stretching over a 20-year period. The report,“Poverty & Death: Disaster Mortality 1996-2015,” finds 90 percent of these disaster deaths occur in low-and-middle-income countries.

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An analysis of 20 years of data shows earthquakes and tsunamis are the biggest overall killers, followed closely by climate-related disasters, which have more than doubled over the period. The report, however, notes over the last 15 years, weather-related disasters including drought, heat waves, floods and storms have become the main cause of loss of life.

The U.N. secretary-general’s special representative for disaster risk reduction, Robert Glasser, says there is a clear link between the deaths and climate change, as well as with income and development levels.

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“The irony is that those countries that have contributed least to climate change, to this crisis we face, are the ones that are being hit the hardest in terms of loss of life from these events, these increasingly frequent and severe weather and climate-related events,” said Glasser.

Residents work clearing a house destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016.(VOA)
Residents work clearing a house destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016.(VOA)

Haiti, Indonesia, Myanmar

Haiti is a prime example. Glasser notes that it suffered a devastating earthquake in 2010 and just last week was hit by Hurricane Matthew. The carribean island has lost more lives to natural hazards than any other country.

Haiti tops the list of the 10 countries with the most disaster deaths, followed by Indonesia and Myanmar. No rich country appears on this list; but, the report notes wealthy countries suffer the greatest economic losses from natural disasters, amounting to $400 billion or more a year.

Afghans make their way in flooded water from heavy rain in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 2, 2016.(VOA)
Afghans make their way in flooded water from heavy rain in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 2, 2016.(VOA)

Sub-Saharan Africa, Afghanistan

Debarati Guha-Sapir, who heads the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters in Belgium, tells VOA that problems of migration are linked to civil conflicts and climate-related events in sub-Saharan Africa, Afghanistan and other countries.

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“These climate disasters, these repeated droughts or the repeated floods in sub-Saharan Africa, in Eritrea, in Ethiopia, in Sudan have a very important role, a very important part to play in the international migration flows,” said Guha-Sapir.

The U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, describes the report as a damning indictment of inequality. While rich countries suffer huge economic losses from natural disasters, people in poor countries, he says, pay with their lives.(VOA)

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Climate Change Would Affect Health Of Indian Children: Lancet

Climate change would hit health of Indian children hard, says study by Lancet

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Children in India will be particularly vulnerable to the ill effects of climate change. Pixabay

Children in India will be particularly vulnerable to the ill effects of climate change such as worsening air quality, higher food prices and rise in infectious diseases, warns a new study published in the journal The Lancet.

Climatic suitability for the Vibrio bacteria that cause cholera is rising three per cent a year in India since the early 1980s, said the report.

“With its huge population and high rates of healthcare inequality, poverty, and malnutrition, few countries are likely to suffer from the health effects of climate change as much as India,” said study co-author Poornima Prabhakaran from the Public Health Foundation of India.

“Diarrhoeal infections, a major cause of child mortality, will spread into new areas, whilst deadly heatwaves, similar to the one in 2015 that killed thousands of people in India, could soon become the norm,” Prabhakaran said.

Through adolescence and into adulthood, a child born today will be breathing more toxic air, driven by the fossil fuels and made worse by rising temperatures.

This is especially damaging to young people as their lungs are still developing, so polluted air takes a great toll, contributing to reduced lung function, worsening asthma, and increasing the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Later in life, a child born today will face increased risk from severe floods, prolonged droughts, and wildfires.

 

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Children in India breathe toxic air and may develop lung diseases. Pixabay

Most countries have experienced an increase in people exposed to wildfires since 2001-2004 with a financial toll per person 48 times larger than flooding.

India alone saw an increase of more than 21 million exposures, and China around 17 million, resulting in direct deaths and respiratory illness as well as loss of homes, said the report.

“Over the past two decades, the Government of India has launched many initiatives and programmes to address a variety of diseases and risk factors. But this report shows that the public health gains achieved over the past 50 years could soon be reversed by the changing climate,” Prabhakaran said.

The “Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change” is a yearly analysis tracking progress across 41 key indicators, demonstrating what action to meet Paris Agreement targets — or business as usual — means for human health.

The project is a collaboration between 120 experts from 35 institutions including the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Bank, University College London, and Tsinghua University.

For the world to meet its UN climate goals and protect the health of the next generation, the energy landscape will have to change drastically, the report warns.

Also Read- Prince Charles Talks Climate Change in India

Nothing short of a 7.4 per cent year-on-year cut in fossil CO2 emissions from 2019 to 2050 will limit global warming to the more ambitious goal of 1.5 degree Celsius, said the report. If the world follows a business-as-usual pathway, with high carbon emissions and climate change continuing at the current rate, a child born today will face a world on average over 4 degree Celsius warmer by their 71st birthday, threatening their health at every stage of their lives. (IANS)