World Disasters Report 2016 – Resilience: Saving lives today, investing for tomorrow

Facts and figures

World Disasters Report 2016 – Resilience: Saving lives today, investing for tomorrowumanitarian need is outstripping resources

  1. 65.3 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2015, compared to 59.5 at the end of 2014. This is the highest figure ever recorded by UNHCR.

           (UNHCR, 2016)

  1. 40.8 million people were internally displaced worldwide as a result of conflict and violence at the end of 2015. This is the highest figure ever recorded by IDMC and UNHCR.
    (IDMC, 2016; UNHCR, 2016)
  2. The rate at which people are fleeing war and persecution has soared from 6 people per minute in 2005 to 24 people per minute in 2015.

            (UNHCR, 2016)


  1. Measured against the world’s population of 7.4 billion people, one in every 113 people globally is now either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee.
    (UNHCR, 2016)


  1. Weather-related disasters are displacing 22.5 million people each year since 2008 – the equivalent of 62,000 people every day.

           (OCHA, 2015)

  1. 2015 was the hottest year since modern records began in 1880 and continues a trend – 15 of the 16 hottest years on record have now occurred since 2001. The 2015 record is a globally-averaged temperature that surpassed the 2014 record by 0.13 degrees Celsius (0.23 degrees Fahrenheit). 
    (NASA, 2015)
  2. 98.6 million people were affected by disasters in 2015 and climate was a factor in 92 per cent of those events. Significantly, 32 major droughts were recorded, which was more than double the ten-year annual average.

           (UNISDR, 2016)

  1. The United Nations’ annual appeal for international aid is at its highest ever level and increased from 3.7 billion US dollars in 2004 to 20.1 billion US dollars in 2016.
    (UN, 2016)



Investment: time for a radical rethink


  1. The figure spent on disasters, 106.7 billion US dollars, represents a fraction of the 3.3 trillion US dollars total international aid finance. The 13.6 billion spent on disaster risk reduction accounts for just 0.4 per cent of the total amount spent on international aid.
    (Watson et al. 2015)
  2. For every 100 US dollars spent on international aid, just 40 cents has been invested in protecting that aid from the impact of disasters.
    (Watson et al. 2015)
  3. Of the 106.7 billion US dollars spent on disasters, 65.5 per cent goes to emergency response, 21.7 per cent goes to reconstruction and rehabilitation, while only 12.8 per cent is spent on anticipatory disaster risk reduction.
    (Watson et al. 2015)
  4. Funding for disaster risk reduction is unequally distributed with middle-income countries receiving the largest share. The top ten recipients received nearly 8 billion US dollars of DRR finance between 1991 and 2010 combined; the remaining 144 countries received just 5.6 billion US dollars combined.
    (Kellet and Caravani, 2013)
  5. Between 2004 and 2014, 58 per cent of disaster deaths and 34 per cent of people affected by disasters have occurred in countries that also appear in the top 30 of the Fragile States Index.
    (Budimir and Peters, 2016)
  6. In the Global Risks Report 2016, the top three risks to business in terms of likelihood were large-scale involuntary migration, extreme weather events and the failure of climate-change adaptation and mitigation.
    (WEF, 2016)
  7. Between 1991 and 2010, conservative estimates of the financial losses arising from the direct impact of disasters stand at 846 billion US dollars.
    (Watson et al. 2015)
  8. Economic losses from extreme weather events are now in the range of 150–200 billion US dollars annually.
    (GFDRR, 2015).
  9. Governments can create enabling environments to drive private sector investment decisions through planning, policy incentives, regulation and knowledge-sharing. Businesses could be motivated to invest in resilience for legal compliance with building codes, regulations or commercial restrictions.
    (Bosher and Dainty, 2011)


  1. The question of measuring resilience masks some important power dynamics. Quantitative approaches are favoured by donors, who need to report on numbers for accountability and transparency, and this often drives financial decision-making. Qualitative and participatory approaches are people centred and reflect the realities of people’s everyday lives. We need to find a way of blending both in order to measure resilience effectively.


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