`Natural disasters to cost $185bn yearly`

Annual global losses from natural disasters could triple to a whopping USD 185 billion by the end of this century.

Last Updated: Nov 11, 2010, 19:22 PM IST

Washington: Annual global losses from
natural disasters could triple to a whopping USD 185 billion by
the end of this century, according to a new report.

Climate change could add another USD 28-68 billion more
in damages per year from tropical cyclones alone, said the
report released today jointly by the World Bank and the United
Nations.

The 250-page report tilted `Natural Hazards, UnNatural
Disasters: The Economics of Effective Prevention` also said
that the number of people exposed to storms and earthquakes
in large cities could double to 1.5 billion by 2050.

Targeted directly at the world`s finance ministers, it
stresses that "prevention pays but you do not always have to
pay more for prevention".

It outlined a number of measures to prevent death and
destruction from natural hazards such as earthquakes,
hurricanes, and flooding.

These measures are almost stunning in their simplicity
and common-sense approach. For example, governments can make
information about hazards and risks easily accessible.

It said: "Providing land titles reduces the possibility
of eviction or demolition, and encourages individuals to
invest in safer structures. Removing rent controls restores
incentives for landlords to maintain buildings.

"And, reorienting existing public spending to prioritise
day-to-day operations and maintenance -- mending pot-holes,
painting steel bridges, keeping drains clear -- would increase
prevention."

Undertaking these measures does not necessarily require
governments to spend more, but to spend better, it added.
In a review to the report, renowned economist and Nobel
laureate Amartya Sen welcomed the report, saying: "This is an
excellent piece of work with really practical lessons that
will influence the way disasters are handled -- and indeed
prevented.

"The report could inform and illuminate policy analyses
in a way that would make a gigantic difference to the lives of
vulnerable people. I welcome it warmly."

PTI