Poor people lose more in disasters in Europe and Central Asia – world
Although it may seem counterintuitive, poor people risk losing more to natural hazards such as floods, earthquakes and droughts compared to richer populations. Indeed, disasters deprive households not only of their physical assets, but also of their income levels, coping mechanisms and their ability to participate in the local economy.
A new study on the impact of regional disasters in Europe and Central Asia – a region that suffers from high levels of socio-economic inequality as well as severe risks of floods and earthquakes – finds that while households in the poorest income group suffer only $ 4 in asset losses each incurring up to $ 226 in welfare losses. Households in the middle-income group, on the other hand, can lose around eight times as many assets each year, but only experience welfare losses of around $ 61 – almost four times less than the welfare losses of the poorest income group.
This new regional study, Forgotten: examining the impact of disasters and climate shocks on poverty in Europe and Central Asia, goes beyond just asset losses by quantifying the impact of disasters on the poorest income groups and understanding how disasters could exacerbate existing inequalities in the long run. This disaster risk assessment approach adds a new dimension to the conventional disaster risk assessment framework – which traditionally consists of hazard, exposure and vulnerability – called socio-economic resilience, or household capacity. affected to cope with and recover from disasters.
A key point of the report is that the economic well-being of citizens is affected far more than what the estimated costs of physical damage to buildings and public infrastructure suggest. Indeed, physical damage tends to affect the poor the most, who have a more limited capacity than the middle income group to cope with and recover from such losses. In the eight European and Central Asian countries analyzed, the average socio-economic resilience is less than 50%, which means that the impacts on well-being are twice as severe as suggested by the direct damage.
The study also shows that the recovery and reconstruction process depends not only on the extent of the physical damage caused by the disasters but also on the economic structure of each country and the level of socio-economic resilience of the affected population.
For example, while most of the damage caused by a major earthquake in the West Marmara region (Turkey) will likely be dealt with in less than 3 years, it could take more than 10 years in the Kukes region (Albania) to recover from the same earthquake. Event. The report also found that a 200-year earthquake could potentially push 14-19% of local populations into poverty in the cities of Yerevan (Armenia), Tbilisi (Georgia) and Bucharest (Romania).
Fortunately, the international community is learning to better quantify often overlooked impacts like these. Like traditional risk assessments, socioeconomic resilience can be quantified using a variety of spatial resolutions, ranging from household averages to national averages. This type of risk assessment methodology has been applied in several countries to help disaster risk management strategies better integrate the lived experience of vulnerable communities into post-shock recovery strategies.
Importantly, this methodology also generates empirical evidence to identify priority income groups as well as subnational areas at risk that are significantly vulnerable to disasters. Informed by a socially more inclusive accounting of disaster costs, a socio-economic resilience lens can provide new justifications for investing in disaster risk reduction and guide the creation of new tools and policies such as inclusive financial services, extended social protection and targeted post-disaster support for vulnerable households.
This analysis, funded by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, shows that traditional disaster assessment – and the corresponding designs of disaster response and recovery programs – must take into account the hidden and aggravating impacts on poor populations in order to build real resilience. for everyone.