Asia-Pacific disaster-related deaths rise three-fold in past decade, annual UN statistics publication reports

Asia and the Pacific remains the region with the highest number of natural disasters, according to the Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2014. During the period between 1994 and 2013, over 40% of the world’s reported natural disasters occurred in the region.

Published by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the annual statistics publication reports that disaster-induced deaths in the Asia-Pacific region rose more than three-fold between 1994-2003 and 2004-2013, largely due to a handful of extreme disasters.
Some 28 upper-middle-income and high-income economies accounted for 85.5% of the total economic damage from natural disasters between 2004 and 2013. However, in terms of GDP, low-income economies suffered more from natural disasters.

Among the Asia-Pacific subregions, South-East Asia, predominantly Indonesia and the Philippines, was hardest hit by natural disasters with the total report of 527 incidences and 354,293 deaths between 2004 and 2013. During the same period, the number of natural disasters occurring in China alone (285 incidences) was more than twice as high as that in the whole North and Central Asia (116 incidences), part of the largest subregion in Asia and the Pacific in terms of the total area covered.

The Statistical Yearbook also noted that the region continues to drive the global economic recovery, but its growth rate still remains below its pre-crisis level — that is to say, 3.9% during the period between 2008 and 2012, compared with 5.2% during the period between 2001 and 2007. And not all are benefiting from economic growth.

Although one billion people escaped extreme poverty since 1990 in Asia and the Pacific and the prevalence of undernourishment has also decreased from 22% to 13%, over 700 million people in the region still remain in extreme poverty, and Asia and the Pacific accounts for more than 60% of the world’s hungry people. 933 million people are living on between $1.25 and $2 a day, making them economically insecure or vulnerable to poverty. A small shock to their lives due to such factors as personal mishaps or economic crises could push these people into abject poverty (below the $1.25-a-day line). Inequality has also risen in nearly half the countries in the region for which data are available.

Speaking at the launch, ESCAP Deputy Executive Secretary, Mr. Shun-ichi Murata highlighted the bigger picture for data and statistics in the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

“The proposed 17 goals with 169 targets of the framework cover a broad range of goals and targets of sustainable development, raising demands for data for the purpose of monitoring,” he said. “At the same time, there has been an emphasis on the importance of establishing a rigorous monitoring and accountability system. In that context, statistics will be of critical importance to support accountability and monitoring of the SDGs.”

About the Yearbook

The Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific presents concise analyses highlighting major achievements and challenges for the 58 regional ESCAP member States and the five subregions in promoting economic prosperity, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.

The Yearbook is accompanied by a series of online products, including country fact sheets, a database containing over 600 indicators and data visualization options.

The publication is available for download.