Some 55 million people were affected by extreme weather conditions around the world in 2009, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction Ms. Margareta Wahlstrom said on Monday.
In a report released at the ongoing COP 15 meeting in Copenhagen, Ms. Wahlstrom said that out of the 245 disasters reported in 2009, 224 were weather related accounting for 55 million of the 58 million people affected, 7,000 of the 8900 killed and USD 15 billion out of the USD 19 billion in economic damages.
In the year under review, 11 million people were affected by floods compared to 178 million people in 2007 and 45 million in 2008.
“Statistics show lower figures compared to previous years, which is good news for people and countries, however extreme weather disasters remain top of the list and will continue to affect more people in the future as more than half of the world’s population highly exposed is living in coastal regions,” she said.
Drought is a major hazard and a slow onset of disaster in many parts of the world with long term consequences on people and their assets.
“Access to clean water, in fact access to any water at all, is already a major threat to human security. Disasters can be caused by too little water as well as too much water. In cities around the world, even simple measures such as drainage systems can save lives and prevent losses,” the Special representative said.