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Disasters represent a major source of risk for the poor. These natural events can wipe out development gains and accumulated wealth in developing countries. In this project we have assessed the global risks of two disaster-related outcomes: mortality and economic losses. We have estimated risk levels by combining hazard exposure with historical vulnerability for two indicators of elements at risk—gridded population and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per unit area—for six major natural hazards: earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, floods, drought, and cyclones. By calculating relative risks for each grid cell rather than for countries as a whole, we have been able to estimate risk levels at sub-national scales. Such information can inform a range of disaster prevention and preparedness measures, including prioritization of resources, targeting of more localized and detailed risk assessments, implementation of risk-based disaster management and emergency response strategies, and development of long-term land-use plans and multihazard risk management strategies. A set of accompanying case studies, available separately, explores risks from particular hazards or for localized areas in more detail, using the same theoretical framework as the global analysis.
We hope that in addition to providing interesting and useful results, the Hotspots global analysis and case studies will stimulate additional research, particularly at national and local levels, increasingly linked to disaster risk reduction policy-making and practice. Full details on the data, methods and results of the global analysis can be found in volume one of Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis. Volume two, Natural Disaster Hotspots Case Studies, published in 2006, presents a series of case studies undertaken to support the global analysis.