Download Chapter
Asian Development Bank

Chapter 1.1 Introduction

The Disaster Challenge

Photo: Asian Development Bank

[:en]On 25 April 2015, a major earthquake struck central Nepal, killing more than 8,000 people and destroying a quarter of a million homes.

Surviving the Gorkha earthquake: disaster risk reduction in Nepal

The earthquake in Nepal was a major disaster, but it was just one of many triggered by natural hazards during the writing of this book. Global disaster data from 2013, the most recent annual analysis to be published, shows that there were 330 reported disasters triggered by geophysical, meteorological and climatological hazards in that year, affecting 108 countries, resulting in more than 21,600 deaths, affecting 96.5 million people and causing damage and losses to the value of $118.6 billion. In fact, 2013 was much quieter than many previous years: the average annual death toll from such disasters in the decade 2003–12 was 106,654; the average annual number affected was 216m and average annual losses were $157bn.+D. Guha-Sapir, P. Hoyois and R. Below, Annual Disaster Statistical Review 2013: The Numbers and Trends (Louvain: Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), 2013), Data are from the EM-DAT database ( Between 2008 and 2012, 143.9m people in 125 countries were displaced by a variety of natural hazard events. Many of these displacements were repeated or prolonged.+M. Yonetani et al., Global Estimates 2014: People Displaced by Disasters (Oslo: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, 2014),

ODI 2015 and Truscribe

Between 2001-2010 disasters caused $1 trillion damage – more than the value of Google, Walmart and Toyota combined. Video:

Disasters are a major problem worldwide and a serious threat to sustainable development. Their impacts are diverse: as well as loss of life, injury and disease, the destruction of property and other assets, disasters can also cause social and economic disruption, loss of infrastructure and other services and damage to the environment. In an increasingly integrated world economy built on networks of global supply chains, disasters in one country can easily affect others, and a shock or disruption to one part of the supply chain, such as a production plant or distribution centre, can have a ripple effect throughout the whole chain. This was illustrated well by two disasters in 2011, an earthquake and tsunami in Japan and extensive flooding in Thailand. Both countries are important suppliers of parts, components and finished products to industries and markets worldwide. In both cases, production of a range of export products was severely disrupted, with a knock-on impact on producers and consumers in many other countries.+UNISDR, Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2013 (Geneva: UNISDR, 2013),, pp. 41–50; L. Ye and M. Abe, The Impacts of Natural Disasters on Global Supply Chains (Bangkok: United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), 2012),[:]