BANGLADESH, Indonesia and Iran have been rated as the nations most at risk from extreme weather and geophysical events according to a new study ranking 229 countries on their vulnerability to natural disasters.
The Natural Disasters Risk Index (NDRI), released by global risks advisory firm Maplecroft, has been developed to enable businesses and investors to identify risks to international assets. It is calculated by measuring the human impact of natural disasters, in terms of deaths per annum and per million of population, plus the frequency of events over the last 30 years. The methodology has been refined to reflect the likelihood of an event occurring and covers disasters including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, storms, flooding, drought, landslides, extreme temperatures and epidemics.
There are 15 countries rated as “extreme risk” in the ranking, including N11 members Bangladesh (1), Indonesia (2) and Iran (3), with Asian heavyweights, India (11) and China (12) also in the highest risk category. These are the same countries that are projected to set leading growth trends amongst emerging economies. According to IMF estimates Bangladesh grew 5.49% in 2009, Indonesia 4.54% and Iran 1.82%, whilst China grew 8.73% and India 5.66%. These countries also form important links in the supply chains of many companies.
“Poverty is an important factor in countries where both the frequency and impacts of natural disasters are severe,” said Maplecroft Environmental Analyst, Dr Anna Moss. “Poor infrastructure, plus dense overcrowding in high risk areas like flood plains, river banks, steep slopes and reclaimed land continually result in high casualty figures.”
Over the last 30 years Bangladesh has seen 191,637 deaths as a result of major natural disasters, with storms claiming 167,178 lives. Indonesia has lost 191,105 lives over the same period, but 165,708 of these casualties were caused by the tsunami in December 2004. Earthquakes are the major vulnerability factor in Iran where approximately 74,000 deaths have occurred as a result of seismic events.
India is subject to a wide variance of events and has lost 141,961 of its population to major natural disasters since 1980, including 50,000 to earthquakes, 40,000 to floods, 15,000 to epidemics and 23,000 to storms. China has suffered more losses than India, with 148,417, but a high concentration of these occurred during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake where 87,476 people lost their lives.