Latin America and the Caribbean face potentially crippling economic and social costs from natural disasters and need to do more to reduce risks and prepare government finances to respond to eventual catastrophes, according to a new set of indicators
The new edition of Indicators of Disaster Risk and Risk Management details the potential economic losses a group of 17 countries in this region could suffer in the event of a natural disaster and evaluates how effective their governments are in managing these risks. The indicators show that the region’s systems and policies to manage disaster risk are still unsatisfactory.
Human and economic losses stemming from natural disasters have increased over the past century in this region as a consequence of population growth, unplanned urbanization, overexploitation of natural resources and probably the effects of climate change. Earthquakes, floods and storms caused $34 billion in economic losses in 2000–2009, compared with losses of $729 million in the in the 1940s.
For example, the indicators show that if Peru were hit today by an earthquake similar to the one that hit Chile earlier this year, it could suffer economic losses of as much as $15.8 billion. A similar event could cause losses of as much as $5.2 billion in Mexico, $3.8 billion in Colombia and $3.5 billion in Ecuador.