Samoa's disaster risk drops

Samoa has been ranked 98th in an international survey of countries’ vulnerability to natural disasters: the World Risk Index 2020. 

The report, released last September, surveyed a total of 181 countries and ranked them on the basis of their exposure to potential risks from natural disasters.

Among Pacific states, Vanuatu leads the index as the country with the highest risk of disasters.

The rankings are contained within the “World Risk Report 2020” which was jointly authored by Benedikt Behlert, Rouven Diekjobst, and other colleagues from the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (I.F.H.V.).

Samoa’s ranking dropped from 94 in 2019 to 98 in 2020. 

The disaster risk report is geographically highly concentrated: in 2020, risk hotspots are located in Oceania, Southeast Asia, Central America and West and Central Africa.

The report factors in not just a country’s exposure to natural disasters but also their level of development, which influences their susceptibility and coping and adaptive capacities. 

The report can be used to formulate recommendations for action for national and international, state and civil society actors.

Oceania has the highest median level of risk of all continents,  partly due to the high proportion of island states. 

A total of five countries in the continent – Vanuatu (1), Tonga (2), the Solomon Islands (5), Papua New Guinea (8) and Fiji (15) – are among the 15 countries with the highest disaster risk. Kiribati (18) follows closely behind.

In terms of susceptibility to disaster damage, most countries in the region are listed in the highest risk categories, except for Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa, which rank as moderate-to-low riskcountries. 

The disaster risk calculation is based on four components. They include a country’s exposure to earthquakes, storms, floods, drought, and sea-level rises; the susceptibility of its infrastructure, food supply, and economy; the resilience of its economy, governance and health care; and a country’s ability to adapt to upcoming natural events.

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