Assessing the Real Cost of Disasters

The Need for Better Evidence

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Disasters disrupt socio-economic activities and cause substantial damage. Yet, their full economic impact remains largely unknown, especially the cost of smaller disasters and indirect impacts such as those due to business disruptions. Similarly, little information exists on the total amount of public resources that countries devote to disaster risk management. Reliable, comprehensive and comparable data on the economic impact of disasters as well as on public spending on disaster management and risk prevention are essential for developing effective disaster risk management policies. This report provides an overview of countries' efforts to improve the quality and quantity of information on the costs of disasters.

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Disasters cost lives and disrupt socio-economic activities and livelihoods, causing important economic costs each time they occur. Major earthquakes in Chile, Italy, Japan and Mexico; the disastrous 2017 hurricane season in the United States and the Caribbean; and wildfires in Canada, Portugal and Greece have all left devastation in their wake. Meanwhile, governments continue to invest in disaster risk management, building dikes, sea barriers and dams, strengthening regulations for building codes and land use, and communicating risks to stakeholders. To ensure that disaster risk management policies are effective and address the right priorities, policy makers need solid evidence on damages avoided as well as on resources already engaged in managing disaster risks.


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