Natural disasters drive tens of millions of people into poverty and also have a devastating impact on consumption, the World Bank has said. Climate change looked certain to amplify these effects, the lender argued.
In a fresh report, the World Bank said natural disasters had a more devastating impact on the poor than widely believed, forcing some 26 million people into poverty each year and setting back global spending on goods and services by the equivalent of $250 billion (232 billion euros).
The study argued that the human and economic costs of disasters such as earthquakes, floods and cyclones had been gravely underestimated as experts tended to ignore the high toll on the consumption and related well-being of the poor.
"Severe climate shocks threaten to roll back decades of progress against poverty," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.
Precautionary measures pay off
The lead author of the report, Stephane Hallegatte, said poor people tended to suffer more from disasters as they often lived in places that got hit more often, and lost a bigger share of their income. He added they also received less support from governments.
"Dealing with climate change and natural disasters and resilience is an important component of any poverty reduction policy," Hallegatte told Reuters.
The study suggested the impact of natural disasters on the poor could be softened by such measures as creating early warning systems and giving wider access to personal banking and insurance.
"If you have social protection systems, taxpayers will be the winners in the end because it's less costly than waiting for the catastrophe to happen," the World Bank said.
hg/uhe (Reuters, AFP)