IFRC World Disasters Report for 201318/10/2013 - by IFRC
Lack of access to information and technology has a major impact on people’s ability to prepare for, survive and recover from disasters, says the 2013 World Disasters Report, released today by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
This year’s World Disasters Report focuses on technology and the future of humanitarian action. Written by over 40 humanitarians and academics, the report emphasizes that during the first critical hours after an emergency, most lives saved are actually saved by local people.
Yet many of these first responders don’t have access to basic life-saving information and tools, such as early warning systems and basic connectivity and network infrastructure.
While “new technologies are greatly increasing disaster-affected communities’ capacity for self-help”, the report acknowledges that access to these technologies is “deeply unequal”. This inequality, called the “digital divide” throughout the report, is prominent in the most disaster-prone countries around the world.
“Although the overall number of people affected by disasters decreased in 2012, the number of people affected in the poorest countries increased, with over 31.7 million people affected,” states Patrick Vinck of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and editor of the 2013 World Disasters Report. “They are also often the ones with the least access to technology.”
The report goes on to caution that as humanitarian agencies increasingly turn to new technologies as a source of information about disaster-affected communities’ needs, they run the risk of only listening to those who are connected, and excluding those who are not.
Bekele Geleta, Secretary General of the IFRC, explains: “We hope that governments and affected people in disaster-prone countries can take advantage of innovations such as weather prediction software, satellite imagery and mass alert systems, increasing their resilience to disasters and their ability to recover quickly when they do happen.
“Typhoon Bopha affected 6.3 million people in the Philippines, and thousands of lives were saved because 99 per cent of the population have access to a mobile phone and could receive early warnings and information on staying safe.”
The report urges the private sector, humanitarian organizations, governments and local communities to partner together to ensure access to technology for these populations and responders.
Disaster data: fewer deaths
The Report also features its annual summary of disaster information.
The year 2012 saw the lowest number of deaths and people affected by disasters in the last 10 years. Deaths from disasters in 2012 were 90 per cent below the average for the decade.
The number of disaster events is also amongst the lowest of the decade. However, 2012 was still recorded as the fifth most expensive of the last 10 years in terms of disaster costs.
In all, there were 552 disaster events costing just under158 billion US dollars. The most expensive disaster was Hurricane Sandy, which cost 50 billion US dollars and the deadliest was Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines, which killed 1,901.
Floods accounted for 53 per cent of the 139 million affected by disasters in 2012, with the most severe taking place in China in April and June.
For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Pierre Kremer, head of communication, IFRC
Tel.: +41 (0)22 730 4914, Mobile: +41 792264832
Benoit Matsha-Carpentier, senior communication officer, IFRC
Tel.: +41 (0)22 730 4696, Mobile: +41 792132413
Gina Guinta, public communication, IFRC
Tel.: +41 (0)22 730 4323, Mobile: +41 79 217 3381