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In Europe and Central Asia, the poor lose more when disaster strikes – the world




While it may seem illogical, poorer populations may lose more in the face of natural hazards such as floods, earthquakes, and droughts than richer populations. This is because disasters rob families not only of their physical assets but also of their income levels, coping mechanisms and ability to participate in the local economy.

A new study on the impacts of regional disasters in Europe and Central Asia — a region with high levels of socio-economic inequality combined with severe flood and earthquake risks — finds that while households in the poorest income group experience only $4 in asset losses each year, it suffers a loss of $226 in luxury. Meanwhile, families in the middle income group may lose about eight times more assets each year, but only experience welfare losses of about $61—almost four times less than the welfare losses for the poorest income group.

This new, overlooked regional study: Examining the Impact of Disasters and Climate Shocks on Poverty in Europe and Central Asia looks beyond asset losses alone by identifying the impact of disasters on the poorest income groups and understanding how disasters can exacerbate existing long-term inequalities. the long. term. The disaster risk assessment approach adds a new dimension to the traditional framework for disaster risk assessment – which traditionally consists of risk, exposure and vulnerability – called social and economic resilience, or the ability of affected households to cope with and recover from disasters.

A key finding from the report is that the economic well-being of citizens is affected much more than the estimated costs of physical damage to buildings and public infrastructure indicate. This is because material damage tends to affect the poor the most, who have more limited ability than the middle income group to deal with and recover from these losses. In all eight countries in Europe and Central Asia analyzed, the average socioeconomic resilience was less than 50%, which means that the well-being effects are twice what the direct damages suggest.

The study also shows that the process of recovery and reconstruction depends not only on the extent of physical damage caused by 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 damage from a major earthquake in the western Marmara region (Turkey) is likely to be remedied in less than 3 years, it may take more than 10 years in the Cox region (Albania) to recover from the same earthquake event. The report also found that a 200-year earthquake could push 14 to 19% of the local population into poverty in the cities of Yerevan (Armenia), Tbilisi (Georgia), and Bucharest (Romania).

Fortunately, the international community is learning how to better identify influences that are often overlooked. Similar to traditional risk assessments, socioeconomic resilience can be measured using a variety of spatial decisions, ranging from household averages to national averages. This type of risk assessment methodology has been applied in many countries to help disaster risk management strategies better integrate the lived experience of at-risk communities into their trauma recovery strategies.

Importantly, this methodology also generates empirical evidence for identifying priority income groups as well as high-risk and disaster-prone subnational regions. Building on a more socially inclusive accounting of disaster costs, a socioeconomic resilience lens could provide new rationales for investing in disaster risk reduction and guide the creation of new tools and policies such as inclusive financial services, broad social protection, and targeted post-disaster support for vulnerable families.

This analysis, funded by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, demonstrates that traditional disaster assessment – as well as corresponding designs for disaster response and recovery programs – must take into account both hidden and compound impacts on poor populations in order to build true resilience. For everyone.




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