Risk to Natural Disasters

How likely will each country be seriously affected by a natural disaster?

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World map of the natural disaster risk per country according to the World Risk Index.

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This map shows how countries are rated according to the World Risk Index. The World Risk Index is an index compiled by the Alliance Development Works/Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft (BEH) that assesses how much at risk a country is of a natural disaster. The index looks at 2 main factors: How exposed is a country and its population to natural disaster? How vulnerable is a country?

The first indicator is determined by how likely the chance is that a natural disaster will hit that country. This rating also depends on the type of natural disaster and how much of the country’s population can potentially be affected by it.

The vulnerability is determined by a large number of indicators. These indicators asses how well prepared a country is for a natural disaster and how effective the disaster relief in the country is. It takes several factors in account like the state of the infrastructure, housing conditions, poverty, medical services, disaster preparedness and adaptation to natural hazards and climate change.

To clarify this a bit more, we will zoom in on 4 countries that rank differently in terms of exposure and vulnerability. As you can see on the graph, there are countries like Finland which have one of the lowest exposure and vulnerability to natural disasters. It’s highly unlikely a serious natural disaster will occur in Finland, but if it does, they are well prepared to deal with it and the aftermath of it. This results in a low score for Finland on the index. Yemen has a similar low exposure to natural disasters like Finland. However, they are vulnerable to a possible natural disaster. In the unlikely event of a natural disaster, Yemen would be hit very hard. Which is why Yemen ranks 106th out of 181 countries and Finland ranks 171st.

Then we also have two countries that are highly exposed to natural disasters: Japan and Haiti. But both countries score very differently on the index due to their vulnerability. Haiti is one of the most vulnerable countries on the index, where Japan is one of the least vulnerable countries. This results in a very high rank for Haiti (21st). Although Japan is very well prepared for natural disasters. The natural disasters it is exposed to are potentially so powerful and numerous, that Japan still ranks quite high (46th).

The countries most at risk of a natural disaster are located in Oceania, Southeast Asia and South and Central America. Vanuatu (47.73) has by far the highest score in the world. The island nation in the Pacific is more exposed to natural disasters than any other country. It has an exposure of 82.55. To put this in perspective, the second most exposed country is Antigua and Barbuda (67.73) and only 9 countries on this index have an exposure over 40. On top of that, Vanuatu is also very vulnerable (57.82).


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