Alarming Facts about Desertification, Drought and Catastrophes
Be among the first to know 12 February 2016
Hot off the press!
A new analysis issued by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) shows that 2015 – the hottest year on record – confirmed that weather and climate-related disasters now dominate disaster trends linked to natural hazards.
The analysis found that 98.6 million people were affected by disasters in 2015, and that climate – often aided by a strong El Niño phenomenon – was a factor in 92 per cent of those events.
2015 disaster facts and figures vs 2005-2014 averages
- 32 major droughts recorded last year compared to an annual average of 15 over the previous decade.
- Droughts affected 50.5 million people, well above the ten year average of 35.4 million.
- Floods were in second place last year when 152 floods affected 27.5 million people and claimed 3,310 lives. This compares with the ten year average of 5,938 deaths and 85.1 million people affected.
- Floods in India last year affected 16.4 million people.
Rising sea levels and sea surface temperatures were factors in a very active cyclone season in Asia and the Pacific which saw 37 cyclones and typhoons. Globally, there were:
- 90 reported storms resulting in 996 deaths and affecting 10.6 million people. This compares with a ten year average of 17,778 deaths and 34.9 million people affected.
2015 was the hottest year on record and this contributed to a major loss of life from heatwaves, including a combined total of 7346 deaths: in France (3,275), India (2,248) and Pakistan (1,229).
- Overall, 7,346 deaths were recorded and 1.2 million people were affected by extreme temperatures in 2015.
- This compares with the ten year average of 7,232 deaths and 8.7 million affected.
Other statistics from 2015:
- earthquakes and tsunamis killed 9,525 people (including Nepal) and affected 7.2 million;
- landslides triggered by heavy rains, killed 1,369 people and affected 50,332;
- wildfires took 66 lives and affected almost 495,000 people.
- Drought affects Africa more than any other continent, with EM-DAT recording 136 events there between 1995 and 2015 (some41% of the global total), including 77 droughts in East Africa alone.
- Since the first UN climate change conference (COP1) in 1995, 606,000 lives have been lost and 4.1 billion people have been injured, left homeless or in need of emergency assistance as a result of weather-related disasters.
- Urbanization has significantly increased flood run-offs, while recurrent flooding of agricultural and, particularly in Asia, has taken a heavy toll in terms of lost production, food shortages and rural under-nutrition.
Reducing the size of drought-vulnerable populations should be a global priority over the next decade; better accounting systems for indirect deaths from drought are also required; these should be linked to early warning systems and response mechanisms in order to monitor the impacts of drought more comprehensively. Learn more from the International Disaster Database EM DAT