Why more people dying,
EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS OF INDIA.
The Kashmir earthquake, hurricanes Katrina and Rita, floods in Bombay and Guatemala, the Indian ocean tsunami-is the world entering an era of more frequent natural catastrophes? In its 2005 World Disaster Report, released this month, the International Red Cross counted 360 natural disasters in 2004, according to the Red Cross, compared 643,418 people in the previous decade.
One explanation for the numbers is beyond dispute: population growth. More and more people are living at-risk areas, whether it’s the hurricane-hit coastlines of Florida, the floodplains of eastern china or earthquake zones in Indonesia. Even in alpine Kashmir where the latest quake struck, the population has increased by an estimated 60% between 1981 and 2000. No matter where natural disasters hit, they will affect more people today than they would have done in the past and will affect more still, tomorrow.
We can’t easily change demographics, and we can’t prevent earthquakes or hurricanes from happening. So preparation against nature’s hammer blows will become increasingly vital, especially in Asia, where an estimated 90% of the people affected by disasters over the past decade lived. Earthquake experts refer to the “seismic gap”-the difference between the rich and poor cities’ abilities to withstand an earthquake. A 2004 study by Tearfund, a Christian relief agency, found the less than 10% of the money spent on disaster aid by government agencies and the World Bank went to preparation. If that doesn’t, we can look back on 2005 as an easy year.