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Nine out of ten natural disasters are related to climate change, according to data released today by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters.
“We have had the hottest year on record. Some 98.6 million people were affected by disasters in 2015 and the weather, helped by a strong El Niño phenomenon, was a factor in 92 percent of cases, ”said the director of that United Nations agency, Robert Glasser.
The most obvious impact was seen in the 32 major droughts recorded last year, more than double the annual average of 15 in the previous decade.
Droughts affected 50.5 million people, especially in Africa.
"The droughts will worsen in 2016. This year we are going to face a humanitarian disaster for this reason, with population exoduses and migrations," predicted the director of the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, Debarati Guha-Sapir, in a conference. press.
Size and demographics of disasters
The data presented today also reveal that the impact of disasters is not always determined by the size or demographics of countries.
This is evidenced by the fact that Guatemala is in fifth place among the ten countries with the most deaths reported due to natural disasters, with 627 people who perished in landslides.
That same country is in ninth place for the number of people affected by this natural disaster, a total of 2.8 million people.
Guha-Sapir explained that in Guatemala, as in the rest of Central America, poor populations live on slopes, "so when heavy rains fall there are these mudslides."
The location of neighborhoods in those areas is inadvisable from the point of view of urban planning, added the expert.
For its part, Chile was the sixth country that suffered the most economic losses due to natural disasters - including floods, floods and an earthquake that was accompanied by a tsunami - which amounted to about 3.1 billion dollars, according to figures provided by the UN.
Earthquakes, although not the most frequent, are the deadliest natural threat, such as the one that took place in Nepal, which caused 8,831 deaths.
“This shows the importance of ensuring compliance with building codes. Buildings are what kill people in seismic zones, as we saw again this weekend in Taiwan, ”Glasser stressed.
Floods and heat
By the number of people affected, floods ranked second in importance, with 27.5 million people affected in 152 episodes worldwide.
The storms - intensified by the disruption of the climate due to global warming - constituted the third type of disaster that affected the most people: 10.5 million people.
Extreme temperatures were another particularly serious disaster category in 2015, especially heat waves.
"Several countries in Europe faced heat limits with significant numbers of fatalities, especially in France, while India and Pakistan experienced heat waves that were among the most severe in recent times," Guha-Sapir explained.
"Mortality from heat waves is highly underestimated," said the expert.
Photo: In Harare (Zimbabwe) a farmer shows the worms that he is going to eat due to lack of food due to the drought. EFE / Aaron Ufumeli