This is the stark finding from a Frontline study spanning the whole of Latin America. If the same is true globally it presents a huge challenge.
It found that when people at the 'frontline' – in disaster-affected communities – are consulted, time and again they report that the biggest disaster impacts come from localised 'everyday disasters'; for example floods that damage their businesses, health and education, pollution damaging their environment, farming and drinking water, crime taking away posessions and livelihoods. They are largely unreported, uninsured, do not attract national government attention or unlock external financial assistance. In reality the majority of people most affected by disasters bear the cost of multiple inter-related risks in a complex, fast changing, uncertain and impoverished environment. Pressure on livelihoods, health and well-being is increased by factors such as crime, violence, insecurity, corruption and government failures, extreme price volatility and income disparity, climate change and environmental mismanagement. Affected communities have little choice but to take responsibility for the security and protection of their lives, livelihoods and assets.
Few of these disasters are recognised and recorded in the official statistics, which require a certain level of impact before disasters are recorded; and few are therefore tackled in local, national and global disaster reduction and response plans.
GNDR research in Latin America is reinforced by official UN data measuring disasters globally1. A core consideration must be to take a reality check. Remember these forgotten disasters – not just the disasters that make media headlines around the world – and shape legislation, policy and action to tackle them.
A priority for reducing the impact of forgotten disasters on people living at the frontline is to engage and support civil society organisations such as GNDR's members who can play a vital bridge-building role at local, national and international levels. The Frontline programme is developed to support this.
1 Analysis of national datasets and other local data sources led to an estimate that total losses are 77% higher than those in the international Em-DAT database: GAR 2013 Annex 2.
Watch a Frontline video about hidden, everyday disasters in the GNDR Youtube channel:
- Frontline Brochure [Frontline_FINAL_EN.pdf14.13 MB]