The Economics of Natural Disasters - Implications and Challenges for Food Security

A large and growing share of the world's poor lives under conditions in which high hazard risk coincides with high vulnerability. In the last decade, natural disasters claimed 79,000 lives each year and affected more than 200 million people, with damages amounting to almost US $ 70 billion annually. Experts predict that disasters will become even more frequent and their impact more severe, expecting a five-fold global cost increase over the next fifty years, mainly due to climate change and a further concentration of the world's population in vulnerable habitats. The paper argues that in order to mitigate disaster impact on poor population groups, development policy and disaster management need to become mutually supportive. Focusing on challenges disasters pose to food security, it proposes that in disaster-prone locations measures to improve disaster resilience should be an integral part of food security policies and strategies. It expands the twin-track approach to hunger reduction to a "triple track approach", giving due attention to cross-cutting disaster risk management measures. Practical areas requiring more attention include risk information and analysis; land use planning; upgrading physical infrastructures; diversification and risk transfer mechanisms. Investments in reducing disaster risk will be most needed where both hazard risk and vulnerability are high. As agriculture is particularly vulnerable to disaster risk, measures to reduce this vulnerability, i. e. protecting agricultural lands, water and other assets, should get greater weight in development strategies and food security policies. Investing in disaster resilience involves trade-offs. Identifying the costs, benefits and trade -offs involved will be a prominent task of agricultural economists.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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