Nature and Biodiversity

How much do natural disasters cost the world?

Emma Luxton
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Natural disasters caused a total of $1.5 trillion in damage worldwide between 2003 and 2013, according to a study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which finds they caused more than 1.1 million deaths and affected the lives of more than two billion people.

1512B24-cost of natural disaster infographic deaths affected damage

Source: FAO

Researchers also found an increase in the frequency and severity of natural disasters over the past three decades, with a corresponding rise in economic losses.

1512B24-natural disaster frequency weather FAO chart

Source: FAO

The study is based on a sample of 78 needs assessments undertaken in the aftermath of disasters between 2003 and 2013. It covered 48 countries in Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Developing countries are disproportionately affected by natural disasters, which often undermine overall economic growth and development and hit the agriculture sector particularly hard.

1512B24-world map natural 1995-2015 disasters global

Source: FAO

The study examined the impact of natural disasters on the agriculture sector and global food security. It showed that at least 22% of the damage caused in developing countries between 2003 and 2013 was in the agriculture sector.

The most devastating natural disaster for the agricultural sector was the 2008-2011 Kenya drought, which caused damage worth 10.5 billion US dollars to the country’s agriculture. Next worst was the 2010 flooding in Pakistan which cost 5.3 billion dollars.

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Author: Emma Luxton is a Junior Content Producer at Formative Content.

Image: A palm tree is damaged on a beach near Port Vila, the capital city of the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu March 14, 2015. REUTERS/Kris Paras 

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Nature and BiodiversityGeo-Economics and Politics
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