325 Million Exposed to Natural Disasters by 2030

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Research published last year by the U.K.’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI), had a grave powerful message, that seems to have gone largely unnoticed.  It examines the relationship between disasters and poverty, suggesting that extreme weather events will keep people poor in many parts of the world. The report, The Geography of Poverty, Disasters and Climate Extremes in 2030, states that where disasters like drought are prevalent, they can be the most important cause of poverty, and that up to 325 million people will be living in countries highly exposed to natural hazards by 2030. It argues that if aid is not used to reduce these risks, the progress made in fighting poverty could disappear. Developed countries haven't recognised the role that these severe weather events have in keeping people poor.

Using population projections, climate models and estimations of how governments can cope with extreme events, it forecasts the next 20 years, suggesting that up to a third of a billion people could be living in the 49 countries most exposed to the full range of natural hazards and climate extremes in 2030. In sub-Saharan Africa 118 million people in poverty will face extreme events. The big weather issues that will face most poor people are drought, extreme rainfall and flooding.

We've often heard that ill health is the biggest cause for impoverishment. We are witnessing this through the news of Ebola. In this report’s data, however, in areas exposed to these hazards, they are the key causes of impoverishment. At present, the problem is that money tends to flow in response to disasters, not to prevent them.

The report lists the 11 countries most at risk of disaster-reduced poverty: Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. Part of the problem is that donor countries are not prioritising aid to the countries that need it most, in terms of disaster risk reduction. Instead, the richer nations provide more financial support to middle income countries, who can manage these weather challenges better and that are places making strong strides in protecting their populations. What has not been done is to focus on the poorest countries, the ones most exposed to issues like drought, like sub Saharan Africa.

This ODI report also highlights that the way that vulnerable countries spend their money needs reform, as all too often funds are spent on the capital city or on infrastructure and not on the poorest. It calls for the post-2015 development goals to include targets on disasters and climate change, to recognise the threat they pose to eradicating extreme poverty by 2030. If the international community is committed to ending poverty, then they need to get serious about reducing disaster risk for the poorest people. Extreme weather linked to climate change is increasing and will more than likely be causing more disasters.

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