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50% of the world feel unable to protect themselves from disasters

One-third of people involved in global disasters in the past five years did not receive a warning and our sense of agency is in decline.

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The Lloyds Register Foundation published the results of its latest World Risk Poll this week in a report, Resilience in a Changing World. The third edition of the survey contained data from 147,000 people across 14 countries. 

Focusing on how individuals experience and perceive risk, 43% of respondents said they felt it was impossible to protect themselves, and their families, from disaster events. This is a seven-point increase on 2021 levels, marking a sharp decline in people’s sense of agency, leading to a reduced ‘resilience score’ in more than one-third of the countries – or 42 of the 120 assessed. In comparison, household, community and society scores were relatively stable. 

‘Everyone should have a future where they are not threatened by disasters,’ said Jenty Kirsh-Wood, Head of Global Risk Analysis and Reporting at the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. ‘It is clear that we are heading in the wrong direction: risk is rapidly rising with increased shocks and stresses that are deepening inequality and derailing progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. This report is an important milestone for understanding risk that can help set a path to a more risk-informed, sustainable future.’

Locations with the highest prevalence of household disaster planning showed the greatest sense of agency relating to climate resilience. Furthermore, according to the World Risk Poll, 30% of people who had been involved in a disaster since 2019 said they had receive no pre-warning, adding to feelings of being unable to control responses to major events.

Huge disparities exist in terms of preparedness. In North Africa, just 25% of respondents had advanced notice ahead of an incident, the lowest of any region. This was followed by Central and Western Africa, at 38%. East Asia had the most effective systems, with 90% of people told to prepare or evacuate due prior to a disaster actually happening. Economically the difference is even bigger, with only 63% of the poorest people – those who said they would last less than one week if their income was lost – receiving a warning. This contrasts the 74% who can hold out for a month or more and received a warning. 

‘Efficient public warning systems save lives. Advance warnings not only allow for swifter evacuations, but they’re also a crucial part of building trust in governments and helping households and individuals feel better prepared in the face of disaster,’ said Dr George Karagiannis, Risk & Resilience Director at the International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure.

‘Programmes to promote their implementation, such as the UN’s Early Warnings for All initiative, are improving outcomes in lower income countries, but there is still much to be done to reduce inequalities,’ he added. ‘Multi-channel warning systems from trusted, credible sources need to be implemented across the board, and regularly tested to ensure their capability, as well as to help people prepare better, no matter their place of residence or education level.’

You can access the full report here.

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Image: Jonathan Ford

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