Volcanic hazards mitigation: A component of the U.N. International Decade of Natural Disaster Reduction



Natural hazards present a world problem that transcends political boundaries and often results in large loss of life, economic losses, and other hardships, which are particularly acute in more vulnerable countries of the developing world. It has been estimated that natural disasters have claimed about 3 million lives worldwide in the past two decades, adversely affected the lives of at least 800 million people, and caused immediate damages estimated at $100 billion. Losses due to natural disasters are clearly on the increase, due to rapid population growth and increasing concentration of the growth in vulnerable areas. When a natural disaster strikes, the global community reacts in the form of financial aid and other assistance to the stricken nation. In the last decade, for example, direct annual foreign disaster assistance by the U.S. government has ranged from $100 to $800 million. However, despite the considerable sums involved, international aid to stricken countries rarely exceeds 4% of disaster losses.