The Americas


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Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas

The Americas encompass 35 sovereign nation states (and 15 overseas territories and house approximately 14% of the human population in about 28% of the Earths land surface.

Independent countries of the Americas:

Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Overseas territories:

Anguilla (UK), Aruba (Netherlands), Bermuda (UK), British Virgin Islands (UK), Cayman Islands (UK), French Guiana (France), Guadeloupe (France), Martinique (France), Montserrat (UK), Netherlands Antilles (Netherlands), Puerto Rico (USA), Saint Barthélemy (France), Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France), Turks and Caicos (UK), United States Virgin Islands (USA).

All nations states in the Americas with the exception of Canada, the USA, and the overseas territories are developing countries. According to the human development aggregates (UNDP, 2006), 14 countries scored within the high human development group (Antigua and Barbuda; Argentina; Bahamas; Barbados; Canada; Chile; Costa Rica; Cuba; Mexico; Panama; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Trinidad and Tobago; United States and Uruguay); 20 countries are included in the medium human development group (Belize; Bolivia; Brazil; Colombia; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; El Salvador; Grenada; Guatemala; Guyana; Honduras; Jamaica; Nicaragua; Paraguay; Peru; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Suriname; and Venezuela). Only Haiti falls within the Least Development Countries (LDCs).

All types of natural hazardous events occur in the Americas. From landslides to volcanic eruptions, from hurricanes to earthquakes, wildland fires, floods and drought, the Americas constitutes a multi-hazard scenario, where combined with socio-economic and environmental vulnerable conditions, results in numerous and widespread small, medium and large disasters. In the last three decades alone, an estimated 160 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean were affected by disasters associated to the occurrence of natural hazards.

2007 Reports

Findings from the 2007 Regional Report for Latin America and the Caribbean (May 25, 2007)

The continual challenge of inadequate regulatory policies or effective implementation of existent controls, combined with inadequate urban and environmental management, and social inequality make Latin America – and many parts of the Caribbean too - the region with the World’s greatest disparities between poor and rich. This adversely affects large segments of society who live in substandard conditions. Additionally, inadequate ecologically-oriented controls result in overexploited and damaged environment which adds to increasing social and environmental vulnerability in many parts of the region.

Environmental degradation is affecting the overall foundation for disaster risk resilience in the region. Almost 200,000 hectares of forest has been lost in the last 30 years in Latin America and the Caribbean. Over one quarter of Central America is affected by soil erosion, while South American figures in general are on the rise while currently totaling 14%.

The Americas is a multi-hazard scenario where some dynamic and complex patterns of social, economic and environmental processes are worsening levels of disaster risk. In particular, population growth and rapid urbanization, environmental degradation, and climate change are current, and likely future, influences of immense challenge to disaster risk reduction in the Americas.

Disaster risk management today: global contexts, local tools


This new publication provides state of the art information on selected areas of disaster risk reduction in Latin America and the Caribbean. The contents are tailored for a broad audience, including professionals, policy makers, practitioners, as well as those who generate policies for action. The Hyogo Framework for Action and its implementation serves as the overall reference for the publication, which focuses on local sustainable development, land use planning and risk management at the municipal level.

Index of full text document (Spanish only)

Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED)

CRED Annual Disaster Statistic Review 2007

In 2007, there was a high level of disaster occurrence in the Americas, particularly in the Caribbean and Central America. These two regions were badly affected by a large number of meteorological and hydrological disasters. The number of meteorological disasters was especially high in the Caribbean, where the number of reported tropical cyclones in 2007 (16) was almost double the 2000-2006 average (8.4).

In terms of human impact, the number of reported victims in 2007 was well above the average. South and Central America were the worst affected. Together they accounted for over 85% of the total number of victims in the Americas. These regions experienced exceptional hydrological and climatological events. Mexico, Colombia and Bolivia, for instance, suffered several record floods affecting more than 1.6 million people in Mexico and Colombia and more than 800 000 in Bolivia. More than 1 million people suffered from a drought in Brazil and more than 800 000 others were affected by a prolonged period of cold in Peru, Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia. In terms of mortality, the earthquake that hit the south of Peru in August, with 519 people reported killed, was the Americas deadliest disaster in 2007.

The amount of economic damage reported in the Americas in 2007 was highly influenced by a few major events, such as the flood in Mexico, a wildfire and a winter storm in the USA, and the earthquake in Peru. These caused damage worth US$ 3, 2.5, and 2 billion respectively.

Meteorological disasters remained the major source of economic damage (8 US$ billion), accounting for more than 45% of all the damage reported in the region. It is difficult to compare the 2007 figure for economic damage caused by meteorological disasters with the average for earlier years, because, the exceptionally high economic damage caused by hurricane Katrina in 2005 inflated this average. Excluding Katrina, the annual average was US$ 20 billion.

Although the USA was the country most badly hit in 2007, the share of its population affected was low compared to that in other major countries in the Americas. Bolivia, Peru and Colombia were also particularly badly affected this year.

Previous advances

For detailed information on previous disaster risk reduction activities:

Americas Regional Overview 2005-2006 elaborated in preparation for the 2007 Global Assessment Report.

Hyogo Framework in the Latin American Region – Priorities for Action & Initiatives (2005), and

Implementation of the HFA: Institutional Arrangement in the Great Caribbean

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