Ninety per cent of the disasters that occurred during the past decade have been caused by floods, storms, heat waves and other weather-related events, according to a UN report. In a report released on Nov 23, 2015, titled The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters, the UN claimed that weather-related disasters have occurred almost daily, almost twice as often as two decades ago, with Asia as the most affected region.

In total, 6,457 weather-related disasters were recorded worldwide by the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT). The disasters have claimed 606,000 lives since 1995, an average of some 30,000 per annum on top of the other 4.1 billion people injured, left homeless or in need of emergency help.

“Flooding alone accounted for 47 per cent of all weather-related disasters affecting 2.3 billion people, the majority of whom (95 per cent) live in Asia,” the report said. “The vast majority of these deaths (89 per cent) occurred in lower-income countries, even though they experienced just 26 per cent of all storms.”

The countries with the highest number of weather-related disasters over the past decade were the United States, with 472, China with 441, India with 288, the Philippines with 274 and Indonesia with 163, Reuters reports.

This shows an upsetting analysis of weather-related disaster trends over 20 years. This was released one week before world leaders attend the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference or COP 21, which will be held in Paris from Nov 30 to Dec 11.

Population growth and uncontrolled building on floodplains and vulnerable coastal areas make people even more susceptible to weather events. The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) estimates that between $250 billion and $300 billion (between AUD$347 billion and AUD$417 billion) is lost to all types of natural disasters annually.

"All we can say is that certain disaster types are increasing. Floods are definitely increasing," Debarati Guha-Sapir, head of Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) in Belgium, told Reuters. “Rather than focus on the ifs, whys and wherefores, I think we should focus on how to manage floods.”

The report calls for greater support to countries struggling to measure their losses from calamities. This will help countries improve their risk reduction efforts. Adapting to disasters can be easier if there is a better understanding of the causes and consequences of risk generation and accumulation.

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