World Disasters Report 2002- Reducing risk

"...An essential reference for university libraries and an excellent source for students... anyone involved professionally in speaking on the subject of disasters will find the WDR invaluable. For those directly involved in disaster relief, the reports are an excellent starting point for considering key issues and a much needed single source of statistics on disasters....". The Times Higher Education Supplement

Does development expose more people to disasters? What is the cost of failing to prepare? The tenth edition of the World Disasters Report argues that risk reduction is an essential condition for sustainable development. It examines preparedness and mitigation initiatives from disaster-prone countries across the globe. And it discusses who should take responsibility for protecting vulnerable populations from disaster, and how.

The report by chapters


Chapter 1 - Risk reduction: challenges and opportunities
Risk reduction – why it is needed, how best to go about it, and the challenges we face in achieving it – is the theme of this year’s report. Much attention has been paid to “complex political emergencies” over the past decade, so in this chapter we concentrate on what are often (erroneously) called “natural” disasters.

Chapter 2 - Disaster preparedness – a priority for Latin America
Hurricane Michelle ripped through Cuba in November 2001, the most powerful storm since 1944. But just five people died. Successful civil defence and Red Cross planning ensured that 700,000 people were evacuated to emergency shelters in time. Search-and-rescue and emergency health-care plans swung into action.


Chapter 3 - Preparedness pays off in Mozambique
The response to 2000’s floods in Mozambique – the worst for over a century – was a great success. Media headlines celebrated the helicopter rescue of a mother who gave birth while sheltering in a tree. Less reported were the 45,000 lives saved, mostly by regional rather than international rescuers.

Chapter 4 - Pacific islands foretell future of climate change
Scientists now describe climate change as “inevitable” – and Pacific islands are on the front line. Conventional development risks fuelling vulnerability. So future development decisions must be viewed through the lens of risk reduction. Far more resources and political will are needed to protect exposed coastal communities from the worst of the weather.


Chapter 5 - Reducing earthquake risk in urban Europe 
Earthquakes have proved the deadliest of all Europe’s disasters over the past decade, and cost the continent US$ 27 billion in damage alone. Collapsing buildings kill most victims, so how are European cities planning to reduce these risks?


Chapter 6 - Assessing vulnerabilities and capacities
The process of being involved in the assessment can provide participants with greater awareness of their own potentialities. “Instead of seeing themselves as victims, people tell themselves that they can influence what happens,” says the International Federation’s Graham Betts-Symonds. So VCA is a capacity-building tool as well as a diagnostic measure.

Chapter 7 - Accountability: a question of rights and duties
Why is accountability important? Put simply: humanitarian actors exercise real power over crisis-affected people. Power to decide who receives aid and who does not; what will be given, when and where. Power to determine where people must go and when, what they will eat, what clothes and shelter they will have.

Chapter 8 - Disaster data: key trends and statistics
While the total number of all disasters (both “natural” and technological) reported during 2001 was lower than the previous year, at 712 events it still represents the second-highest total of the decade. The number of geophysical disasters has remained fairly constant, but the past two years have seen the highest number of weather-related disasters reported over the decade.



Press release

International development targets threatened by failure to reduce risk from disasters

International development targets set for the year 2015, such as halving world poverty and ...