Disaster risk, climate change, and poverty: assessing the global exposure of poor people to floods and droughts


People living in poverty are particularly vulnerable to shocks, including those caused by natural disasters such as floods and droughts. This paper analyses household survey data and hydrological riverine flood and drought data for 52 countries to find out whether poor people are disproportionally exposed to floods and droughts, and how this exposure may change in a future climate. We find that poor people are often disproportionally exposed to droughts and floods, particularly in urban areas. This pattern does not change significantly under future climate scenarios, although the absolute number of people potentially exposed to floods or droughts can increase or decrease significantly, depending on the scenario and region. In particular, many countries in Africa show a disproportionally high exposure of poor people to floods and droughts. For these hotspots, implementing risk-sensitive land-use and development policies that protect poor people should be a priority.

Winsemius, H., Jongman, B., Veldkamp, T., Hallegatte, S., Bangalore, M., & Ward, P. (2018). Disaster risk, climate change, and poverty: Assessing the global exposure of poor people to floods and droughts. Environment and Development Economics, 23(3), 328-348. doi:10.1017/S1355770X17000444