Identification and Analysis of Global Disaster Risk Hotspots


The second volume of the Hotspots report, which contains case studies verifying or 'ground truthing' the Hotspots analysis takes a closer look at specific regions and risks: drought in Asia, landslides throughout the globe, storm surges in coastal areas, natural disaster risks in Sri Lanka, multihazard risks in Venezuela, and a pilot study on reducing the impact of flooding in Kenya. The books and a Hotspots website offer scientific information on major natural hazards.

ProVention's involvement in the Hotspots project has led to the launch in 2005 of the Global Risk Identification Programme (GRIP), a major new initiative co-led by Provention and UNDP which aims to imporve the quality, availability and access to analysis, data and information on natural hazard risks.


Earthquakes, floods, drought, and other natural hazards cause tens of thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands of injuries, and billions of dollars in economic losses each year around the world. Many billions of dollars in humanitarian assistance, emergency loans, and development aid are expended annually. Yet efforts to reduce the risks of natural hazards remain largely uncoordinated across different hazard types and do not necessarily focus on areas at highest risk of disaster.

In order to support the quantitative identification of geographic areas of high global disaster risk potential, Columbia University, the World Bank, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Middlesex University, the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI), the World Food Program, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc. collaborated under the umbrella of the ProVention Consortium on a global analysis entitled 'Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis'.

The analysis, which was published by the World Bank in March 2005, provides an estimate of the relative risks of disaster-related mortality and economic losses associated with six natural hazards - cyclones, drought, earthquakes, floods, landslides and volcanoes - on a 2.5' global grid. It is complemented by case studies which were released in October 2006. The place-based case studies explore the application of the global risk assessment methodology at larger spatial scales. A Hotspots website with an online mapping application was also launched in October 2006.

Outputs & events


'The Natural Disaster Hotspots report is a path-breaking effort and a wonderful scientific accomplishment. I'm certain that it will prove to be a crucial tool and will stimulate further research in the area. Applying risk analysis to disasters such as earthquakes, drought, and other natural hazards using rigorous science will have huge benefits for policy-makers and for the world.' Jeffrey Sachs, Director, The Earth Institute, Columbia University.

The global analysis and the case studies are being published in a two-volume set by the World Bank. The first volume of the report, entitled 'Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis', contains the results of the global hotspots analysis as well as summaries of the case studies. It was released in March 2005 (see press release) and can be ordered from the World Bank website. The second volume, comprising all case studies, was released in October 2006 (see press release). A Hotspots website with an online mapping application was also launched in October 2006.


An initial workshop took place in New York on 6-7 September, 2001. It reviewed the scientific basis for defining and comparing natural disaster risks of different types by combining hazard data with spatially detailed estimates of potentially vulnerable human populations and their infrastructure, economic activities, and coping capacities. It also addressed the development of an analytic framework for estimating and integrating the spatial distributions of risk posed by different hazards and linking these consistently, first with the principal elements at risk and second with vulnerability factors and, where available, associated vulnerability data.

At a second planning workshop in New York (6-8 November, 2002), participants stressed the need to focus on the applications of the analysis, with a particular emphasis on the economic implications of the results. They hoped that the project would be instrumental in helping major international development agencies to focus on reducing disaster losses in the context of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

The Disaster Risk Hotspots report was then launched by the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute in Oslo in September 2004, and later in New York, Washington DC and Geneva.

The Hotspots case studies and online mapping application were launched on 11 October 2006 in Washington, DC.


Related past activities: