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TitleNatural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters - Medical and Public Health
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Total Pages280
Table of Contents
1. Fluctuating Deaths, Rising Damages—the Numbers
	3.3 million deaths in the 40 years to 2010
	Disasters can strike anywhere
	Damages are rising
	More so in rich countries, less in poor
	Small island economies are hit hard
	Deaths expand Africa—damages shrink it
	Multiple hazards, clustering in different ways
	Spotlight 1 on Bangladesh: The antecedents of lives saved
2. Measuring Disasters’ Many Effects
	Individuals over the edge
	Conflicts: Cause or consequence?
	Welfare falls, but what are the effects on output? And for how long?
	Aggregate and sectoral effects on economic output and growth in the long term
	Measuring the damage: Twice over and half under?
	Spotlight 2 on Turkey: Where civilizations and tectonic plates meet
3. Prevention by Individuals
	Prevention, insurance, and coping: A simple framework
	Prevention: Do individuals do enough?
	Prices reflect hazard risks when land and real estate markets work
	Improving individuals’ decisions: What can governments do?
	Spotlight 3 on Haiti: Preventing Haiti’s horrors
4. Prevention through Governments
	How much do governments spend?
	Who really decides government spending?
	How to improve collective prevention measures
	Spotlight 4 on Ethiopia: Deaths from droughts or Derg?
5. Insurance and Coping
	Insurance: Useful if the premium is priced right
	Should governments borrow, set aside funds, or buy insurance?
	Quick and direct help for families
	Spotlight 5 on the 2004 Tsunami: Warnings: The most effective prevention?
6. Coming Game-Changers? Burgeoning Cities, Climate Change, and Climate-Induced Catastrophes
	Cities: Rising exposure
	Climate change: Changing hazards, changing damages
	Climate-related catastrophes: Deep-future disasters with a global footprint
	Connecting the three Cs: Cities, climate, catastrophes
Notes and References
	1.1 The framework for the report
	1.2 Understanding the terms in the report
	1.3 Global natural hazard databases: Varied purposes, varying details
	2.1 Previous studies find a medley of effects of output and growth
	2.2 Revenues and expenditures: Disasters’ fiscal consequences
	3.1 Evaluating the costs and benefits of structural mitigation measures
	3.2 Assessing risk in Central America
	3.3 A century’s struggle for sound buildings in Italy
	3.4 Building codes BC and their later kin
	4.1 India and anti-drought funds
	4.2 Valuing life: Worthless, priceless, or useless statistic?
	4.3 WMO’s 2006–07 country-level assessment
	4.4 Communications to the community
	4.5 The United States tries to identify critical infrastructure
	4.6 Costs and benefits of mangroves or shrimp ponds on the Thai coast
	5.1 Catastrophe risk in insurance and financial markets
	5.2 The World Bank’s catastrophe risk deferred drawdown option (CAT DDO)
	5.3 Mobilizing Haiti’s diaspora
	6.1 Estimating additional damages from climate change-induced tropical cyclones
	6.2 Within country effects: The case of the United States
	6.3 Estimating additional damages from climate change-induced extreme events (other than tropical cyclones)
	6.4 Geoengineering’s potential and pitfalls
	1 Number of countries that archive data for specific hazards
	2 Property prices for comparable properties are higher in locations farther from earthquake risk in Bogota
	3 Underspending on maintenance implies an enormous infrastructure rehabilitation backlog in Sub-Saharan Africa
	4 Three modes of operation of the SMART Tunnel
	5 The visible border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic
	6 Disasters receive about a fifth of total humanitarian assistance
	7 Private preventive measures pay
	8 Post-disaster spending fluctuates more than pre-disaster spending
	9 Climate change shortens the return period of large storms
	1.1 Deaths fluctuate—the number of people affected is on the rise
	1.2 Disasters affect all regions
	1.3 Disasters almost everywhere (1970–2010)
	1.4 Droughts deadliest in Africa, earthquakes elsewhere
	1.5 Damage on the rise in the last two decades (global damage from hazards, 1970–2010)
	1.6 More damage in rich countries, mostly from earthquakes and storms
	1.7 Many small island developing states are among the 25 countries with damages above 1 percent of GDP
	2.1 Undernourished children become shorter adults
	2.2 Post-traumatic stress reaction (PTSR) scores fall over time in all tsunami-affected areas
	2.3 A possible post-disaster GDP path
	3.1 Private preventive measures pay
	3.2 Property prices for comparable properties are higher in locations farther from earthquake risk in Bogota
	3.3 Corruption perception by industry
	3.4 Debris embedded in a concrete support beam
	3.5 “Honeycombing” showing shoddy construction
	4.1 Post-disaster spending fluctuates more than pre-disaster spending
	4.2 Underspending on maintenance implies an enormous infrastructure rehabilitation backlog in Sub-Saharan Africa
	4.3 Per capita spending is greater for physical capital
	4.4 Vietnam’s recurrent spending is a low and declining share of total transport expenditure
	4.5 Presidential disaster declarations: Peaks often coincide with presidential election years
	4.6 Increasing the accuracy of weather forecasts
	4.7 Internationally coordinated network of WMO and 189 national meteorological and hydrological services
	4.8 Coordinating data collection is complex: A section of the Global Telecommunication System (for Europe) to share data and warnings
	4.9 Three modes of operation of the SMART Tunnel
	5.1 Managing and transferring financial risks to the market
	5.2 OECD remittance recipients in Ghana have sturdier housing and better communication amenities
	5.3 International remittance recipients in Ethiopia are less likely to depend on food aid or sell productive assets during food shortages
	5.4 Timeline of key events in the Horn of Africa drought in 2005–06
	5.5 Disasters receive about a fifth of total humanitarian assistance
	6.1 Current (2008) and projected (2100) damages from extreme events without climate change
	6.2 Climate change shortens the return period of large storms
	6.3 Greater Jakarta area orographic map with rainfall regime
	6.4 Fifteen years of urbanization in Jakarta, before and after
	1 Deaths shrink Asia and the Americas—but expand Africa
	2 Damages shrink Africa but expand middle-income countries
	3 Exposure to cyclones and earthquakes in large cities may rise from 680 million people in 2000 to 1.5 billion people by 2050
	1.1 Deaths shrink Asia and the Americas—but expand Africa
	1.2 Damages shrink Africa but expand middle-income countries
	1.3 Where hazards have struck
	3.1 An earthquake risk index for Bogota
	3.2 Poor people live closer to hazard-prone areas in Bogota
	4.1 Red dots indicate where few, if any, synoptic weather observations are being received
	5.1 The Caribbean region—in harm’s way
	6.1 Cities projected to have more than 100,000 people by the year 2050
	6.2 Exposure to cyclones and earthquakes in large cities may rise from 680 million people in 2000 to 1.5 billion people by 2050
	2.1 Stunted children have lower cognitive scores
	2.2 Civil war, rainfall, and the rule of law
	2.3 Growth effect of a “typical” (median) disaster
	2.4 Growth effect of a “typical” (median) severe disaster
	3.1 Individuals and governments prevent, insure, and cope with disasters
	4.1 Natural hazards and protection
	5.1 Post-disaster safety nets are common
Document Text Contents
Page 1




The Economics of
Effective Prevention

Page 140

118 Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters: The Economics of Effective Prevention

there is a lower risk of damage from small fl oods but far greater in the event
the embankment fails—which is why cost-benefi t analysis is a useful guide
but should not become the sole judge.

Early warning systems: Spending on improving weather forecasting and
sharing data have high returns

Even a few minutes of warning gives people time to fl ee from a fl ash fl ood,
tornado, or tsunami.7 Local authorities use early warnings of tropical
cyclones to evacuate large numbers to safer ground. Warnings issued well
before an event (lead time) also enable people to protect some property and
infrastructure. Reservoir operators could reduce levels gradually to accom-
modate incoming fl oodwaters. Local authorities could position equipment
for emergency response. People could shutter their windows and reinforce
rooftops when warned of severe winds or a cyclone. Chapter 1 showed how
deaths and damage from extreme weather events have risen, though more
slowly than population and economic activity, largely because of successful
prevention measures including better hydro-meteorological forecasts com-
bined with effective emergency preparedness.

Several lower income countries with recurrent disasters like Bangladesh
and Cuba, by developing effective early warning systems, experience far
less mortality (Golnaraghi 2010). Cuba’s Tropical Cyclone Early Warning
System is credited with reducing deaths dramatically for weather-related
hazards such as tropical cyclones, storm surges, and related fl ooding: fi ve suc-
cessive hurricanes in 2008 left only seven dead. Bangladesh’s similar efforts
are described in Spotlight 1. France continually updates all aspects of its
Vigilance System developed after the December 1999 winter storm Lothar.
After the 2003 heat wave that killed 15,000, the system was upgraded to
include heat/health warnings. Flood warnings were added after 2007 when
two large cities, Nimes and Montpellier, had major fl oods.8 Mortality in the
United States declined signifi cantly over the years because its early warning
systems for recurring hazards such as lightning, fl oods, storms, and heat
waves are continually improved: mortality fell by 45 percent and injuries by
40 percent in 15,000 tornadoes from 1986 to 1999 (Teisberg and Weiher
2009). Yet many countries have not benefi ted as much as they could have,
and this section discusses what is needed for them to do so.

Four parts of effective early warning systems require coordination across
many agencies from national to community levels: detecting, monitoring,
and forecasting hazards; analyzing risks; issuing timely warnings, which
should carry the authority of government; and activating community-based
emergency plans to respond to the warnings.9 The focus here is mostly on
the fi rst component—also the most technically complex—since the econom-
ics of detecting, monitoring, and forecasting hazards plays out at a global
scale, unlike the economics of analyzing risks, issuing timely warnings, and
requiring emergency evacuations, which are dictated largely by local, social,
economic, and cultural circumstances. It is important to emphasize, how-
ever, that the strength of a chain is in its weakest link, and all four parts are
necessary for an effective early warning system.10

Page 141

Chapter 4: Prevention through Governments 119

Detecting, monitoring, and forecasting hazards

There is an obvious and important difference in the lead times available for
responding to hazards that can be forecasted (or predicted) in advance and
those that can be detected and monitored only after they have occurred.
Many geological hazards can be detected and monitored but not yet fore-
cast, so earthquakes and landslides remain largely unpredictable, though
their risks in various zones can be estimated.11 But detecting underwater
earthquakes, landslides, or volcanic eruptions using sophisticated ocean
monitoring networks and modeling techniques allows issuance of tsunami
warnings and evacuations along coastal zones because the lead time varies
from a few minutes to several hours (the 2009 tsunami in Samoa).

In contrast, meteorological hazards can be forecast with lead times rang-
ing from a few minutes (enough to save lives) to several days (enough to
save lives and protect property, at least to some extent). Weather forecast-
ing is fundamental to an early warning system for meteorological, hydro-
logical, and climate-related hazards, and advances in technology are only
making it more accurate (fi gure 4.6).

All countries should be able to benefi t from more accurate weather fore-
casting yet many do not. Generating forecasts is complex and requires the
following elements:

• Collecting and sharing data in a systematic and timely manner.
• Telecommunication systems that allow exchange of information.
• Numerical weather prediction models, which simulates the physics of

the atmosphere.

Figure 4.6 Increasing the accuracy of weather forecasts

Note: The colored pairs of lines on the top (for the northern hemisphere) and on the bottom (for the southern
hemisphere) show that forecasts (3-day, 5-day, 7-day, and 10-day) in the northern hemisphere are generally more
accurate than in the southern hemisphere, but that this difference has narrowed over the years. All forecasts are
becoming more accurate: the 7-day forecasts today (green) are almost as good as the 3-day forecasts (blue) in the
early 1980s. The units of measurement are hectopascal (hPa).
Source: World Bank Working Paper No. 151 2008, Washington, DC.





81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10









Day 3

Day 5

Day 7

Day 10

Anomaly correlation of ECMWF 500 hPa height forecasts

Northern hemisphere Southern hemisphere

Page 280

ISBN 978-0-8213-8050-5

SKU 18050


“A remarkable combination of case studies, data on many scales, and application of

economic principles.… [this report] provides a deep understanding of the relative roles

of the market, government intervention, and social institutions in determining and

improving both the prevention and the response to hazardous occurrences.”

—KENNETH J. ARROW, Nobel Prize in Economics, 1972

“I strongly recommend this book to non-economists as well as economists, and to

government offi cials who must cope with fl oods, oil spills, earthquakes, and other disasters.”

—GARY S. BECKER, Nobel Prize in Economics, 1992

“Fascinating and right on target…. You are doing very important work.”

—ELINOR OSTROM, Nobel Prize in Economics, 2009

“This report is a gem.…a model to be studied and emulated.…a team effort,

contradicting the popular notion that a camel is a horse described by a committee. I

don’t remember reading any other 248 pages on a deadly serious subject that were

so informative and so easily digested.”

—THOMAS C. SCHELLING, Nobel Prize in Economics, 2005

“An excellent piece of work with really practical lessons that will infl uence the way

disasters are handled—and indeed prevented…. [it] could make a gigantic difference to

the lives of vulnerable people. I welcome it warmly.”

—AMARTYA SEN, Nobel Prize in Economics, 1998

“Careful, thoughtful, studious... responses will be more effective, before and after the

event, and damage will be less if governments, relief organizations, and others learn

from this study.”

—ROBERT M. SOLOW, Nobel Prize in Economics, 1987

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