Decreasing Casualties of Hydro-Met Disasters: Truth of the Success Story (PAP014972)
Flood forecasting and early warning systems
The CRED EM-DAT data shows a remarkable decreasing trend of casualties of hydro-met disasters in the past six decades. It is often interpreted as a success story of disaster risk reduction by early warning technology and other risk reduction efforts. Its verification, however, seems not so easy due to data uncertainty. The decreasing trend is much controlled by large numbers of casualties by Indian and African droughts and Chinese floods in 1950s to 1980s. Those numbers are so outstanding that without those, the decreasing trend is not visible at all or it seems even increasing. If those data are trustable and the decreasing trend is the truth, the contributing factors may not necessarily be science and technology but largely on the improvement of governance. The data on affected people also indicate the similar results. This paper looks into the controlling events of EM-DAT data trends and discusses their policy implications. The CRED EM-DAT is the only comprehensive database of disasters triggered by natural hazards in the world that is made the raw disaster data freely accessible to the public. It says that EM-DAT contains essential core data on the occurrence and effects of over 18,000 mass disasters in the world from 1900 to present. The database is compiled from various sources, including UN agencies, non-governmental organisations, insurance companies, research institutes and press agencies." This study analyzed the data from 1950s to 2012 in different natural causes (hydro-meteorological, climatological and geological), geographical locations (nations and continents) and consequences (number of events, deaths, affected people and economic losses). It was revealed that the overall statistical characteristics of disaster events such as chronological trends and the total magnitudes of casualties and affected people are largely controlled by a few outstanding data of some causes and geographical areas. The accuracy of those data is decisive to get policy implications of disaster management."