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The scale of water-related disasters

Infographic | 16-04-2018

Water pollution and water-related weather extremes (drought, extreme rainfall, flooding, storm surges) affect the lives of millions of people and cause billions of euros in economic damage, each year.

Each year, water-related disasters, such as drought and flooding, affect approximately 160 million people, killing about 13,500 of them. Flooding affects most of these people (106 million, annually) and causes the largest economic damage (USD 31 billion, annually). Fortunately, due to improved early warning systems and increased disaster management capacity, the number of people killed by weather-related disasters has decreased, over the last decades. Far more people are killed by other types of natural disasters, such as earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as by violent conflict.

Because of unsafe drinking water and lack of adequate sanitation, each year, millions of children under the age of 5 become ill, and almost 800,000 people perish from diarrhea and cholera. Africa has the highest annual deaths, but numbers are also high in Southeast Asia.

Source data

Ali, M., A.R. Nelson, A.L. Lopez, D.A. Sack (2015), Updated Global Burden of Cholera in Endemic Countries. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 9(6): e0003832

CRED (2018), Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT), Brussels: Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters

Prüss-Ustün, A., et al. (2014), Burden of disease from inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene in low- and middle-income settings: a retrospective analysis of data from 145 countries. Trop Med Int Health, 19. pp 894–905

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