While disasters have become more frequent during the past20 years, the average number of people affected has fallen from one in 23 in 1994-2003 to one in 39 during 2004-2013.This is partly explained by population growth, but the numbers affected have also declined in absolute terms.Death rates, on the other hand, increased over the same period, reaching an average of more than 99,700 deaths per year between 2004 and 2013. This partly reflects the huge loss of life in three mega disasters (the 2004 Asian tsunami, Cyclone Nargis in 2008 and the 2010 Haitian earthquake).
However, the trend remains upward even when these three events are excluded from the statistics.Analysis of EM-DAT data also shows how income levels impact on disaster death tolls. On average, more than three times as many people died per disaster in low-income countries (332deaths) than in high-income nations (105 deaths). A similar pattern is evident when low- and lower-middle-income countries are grouped together and compared to high- and upper-middle-income countries. Taken together, higher-income countries experienced 56% of disasters but lost 32% of lives,while lower-income countries experienced 44% of disasters but suffered 68% of deaths. This demonstrates that levels of economic development, rather than exposure to hazards per se, are major determinants of mortality