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In the photo: Dr. Nydia Lucero Ospina Lopez, Mayor of Obando. Photo by: Ruben del Pino










• The first UNISDR and OSSO Corporation report on the impact of disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean analyses 22 years of disaster trends and statistics in 16 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (1990 to 2011)

• 99 of 100 recorded disaster impacts are local, but in total have been responsible for more than 90% of the loss of homes and 50% of the loss of human lives caused by disasters

• Rapid population growth in areas highly exposed to natural hazards; the low level of consideration of disaster risk as a variable in the development planning process and the lack of incorporation of risk reduction at all levels and sectors are among the main underlying causes of disasters.

Source: UNISDR The Americas

PANAMA, Panama, October 30, 2013.- Up to nine out of 10 people affected or homes damaged, as well as half human loss as a result of disasters in 16 Latin American and Caribbean countries over the past two decades are caused by so-called extensive disasters associated with events at the local level (municipality or equivalent) and usually do not transcend to the national or regional level.

So says the first report on the Impact of Disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean. - Trends and statistics for 16 countries between 1990 and 2011, released today by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the OSSO Corporation, which primarily provides a regional comparison by country of the accumulated loss from extensive disasters (high occurrence and low impact) and intensive disasters (low occurrence and high impact), based on an analysis of over 83 thousand historical records in almost 10,000 political units - local administrative structures, commonly known as municipalities.

Ricardo Mena, Head of the UNISDR Regional Office for the Americas said that "this report is an unprecedented achievement in the region, and we will update it annually to help strengthen the growing culture of resilience of nations and communities at all levels and in all sectors."

Thanks to a methodology that systematized the data according to four basic variables (loss of life, people affected, homes destroyed and homes damaged), the report finds that over the last 22 years there have been up to nine disasters per day in the selected countries. When studied individually, the impact appears minor but together, they represent 99 of 100 recorded disaster impacts and have destroyed up to four of 10 homes, killing more than half of people who died as a result of disasters in the region analysed.
The main findings of the report reaffirm the thesis of several organizations, including the UNISDR, which holds that the number of people affected and losses from destroyed and damaged homes are growing over time and are expanding geographically, both within the region as a whole and in individual countries, especially as a result of hydro-meteorological and climate events (rain, floods, landslides, heat waves, droughts, etc.).

"This is irrevocable evidence of the impact of disasters from events related to both intensive and extensive risk, therefore we urge all countries and territories to acquire information and databases on the losses caused by small and often invisible local disasters, in addition to those medium to large disaster impacts that are visible and appear in national and international news,” added Mr. Mena.
Similarly, the report estimated minimum losses of $53,000 million, just in destroyed and damaged homes, for the whole country over 22 years, and emphasized that the increase of disaster risk in the region is directly related to underlying causes such as rapid population growth in areas highly exposed to natural hazards, the low level of consideration of disaster risk as a variable in the development planning process, evaluation of public investment and land management, and the mainstreaming of the issue at all levels and sectors, among others.

The first Report on the Impact of Disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean - Trends and statistics for 16 countries between 1990 and 2011, is a joint initiative between the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), through its Regional Office for the Americas, and the OSSO Corporation, a Colombian NGO working in the area of earth sciences and disaster prevention, whose principal activity is to support the South-Western Seismological Observatory (OSSO) research group.
The digital version of the first Report on the Impact of Disasters in Latin America and the Caribbeanis available through:

• UNISDR – The Americas
• OSSO Corporation

Graph Annex.
1. Damage and loss by risk type, 1990-2011

Classification of losses and damages per type of risk

Type of risk


Loss of human life

Affected persons

Destroyed homes

Damaged homes













See notes 1 and 2
2. Frequency of risk events, 1990-2011

Extensive disasters are far more frequent than intensive disasters. Data show that for every intensive disaster recorded there are 155 extensive disasters. Further, the frequency of extensive disasters has significantly increased over the years

3. Regional historical trends, 1990-2011

Extensive manifestations of risk associated with hydrometeorological and climate events are progressively increasing, in particular, in terms of number of persons affected and homes damaged per 100,000 inhabitants annually.

Editor’s notes:
The countries included in the report are the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Uruguay and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

An extensive disaster is one that results in the loss of less than 25 human lives or less than 300 homes destroyed in a municipality or equivalent from the impact of a local event, while an intensive disaster is one that exceeds these thresholds.

The 16 countries included in the report were selected because they have historical disaster databases, which are homogeneous and have coverage for the 22 years under consideration. These databases were updated, supplemented, cleansed and/or completed.

The estimated loss per home destroyed or damaged is based on the replacement cost of $20,000 for a basic housing unit and 25% of this amount ($ 5,000) to repair a damaged home. In this case, there were 1,116,300 destroyed and 6,031,877 damaged homes.

The document provides statistical data for implementing risk reduction and management policies, such as, for example, the fact that there are 155 registered extensive risks for each intensive risk.  

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