GENEVA, 11 October 2019 – Climate change is contributing to increasing damage
to critical infrastructure around the globe, according to a twelve-year survey
of damages caused by small- and medium-scale disasters conducted by the United
Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Schools, health facilities and roads are regularly damaged by small-scale
weather events which do not grab headlines. The ensuing economic losses
and costs of recovery take a heavy toll on the ability of low and middle
-income countries to invest in achieving the sustainable development goals
including poverty reduction, health and education.
A concerted effort has been underway to improve the collection of disaster
loss data since the adoption in 2015 of the global plan to reduce disaster
losses, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and some 126
countries are now reporting on disaster losses through the online Sendai
Framework Monitor based on data from national disaster loss databases.
The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction looked at damage to education
and health facilities which were identified as areas of critical concern
by UN Member States when it came to measuring progress in reducing damage
to critical infrastructure, a key target of the Sendai Framework.
Since 2005, on average, more than 3,200 schools have been damaged or destroyed
each year in a baseline sample of extensive risk in 83 countries while, on
average, over 412 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed every year.
The Sendai Framework Monitor data also shows that between 2005 and 2017 over
3,200 kilometers of roads have been damaged or destroyed in these same 83
countries from small and medium disasters alone.
“The reports we are receiving are evidence that it is not just the number of
extreme weather events that are on the rise but that there has also been a
steady up-tick in the number of high-frequency recurrent low-to-medium intensity
disasters that are taking their toll in terms of economic losses and disruption
of basic services at the local level. This is further proof that the climate
emergency is disrupting efforts to eradicate poverty and to put the world on a
path to sustainable development,” said Mami Mizutori, the Secretary-General’s
Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Drawn from reports received from 83 countries and territories, the findings are
being used to highlight the theme of this year’s International Day for Disaster
Risk Reduction which is focused on promoting resilient infrastructure and
encouraging more durable and risk-informed construction under the slogan
“Build To Last”.
Mega-disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis have been excluded
from the data sets to ensure that the statistics reflect long-term disaster
trends, and the focus of the analysis has been on so-called extensive risk
which manifests as large numbers of recurrent, low-to-medium severity disasters
mainly associated with localized hazards such as flash floods, landslides,
urban flooding, storms, fires and other time-specific events.
Ms. Mizutori commented: “Extensive disaster risk is magnified not just by
climate change but by other drivers of risk such as insufficiently planned
and managed urban development, environmental degradation, poverty and inequality,
vulnerable rural livelihoods and weak governance. Achievement of the sustainable
development goals will need massive investment in critical infrastructure.
Such investment needs to take account of the growing risks posed by climate
“Most of this type of loss is uninsured and tends to be absorbed by low-income
households and communities, small businesses and local and national governments
which have few resources to spare.”
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR),https://www.unisdr.org/archive/68138