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What would be your reaction if you were told that 2011 was a below-average year regarding both the number of disasters that occurred in that year as well as the number of people affected by those disasters?

If you were somewhat skeptical of that claim, then you should read the full report just released by the Brookings Institution entitled “The Year that Shook the Rich: A Review of Natural Disasters in 2011”.

In that report you will find many statements that might or might not challenge: (1)  the disaster preparedness activities that your family has decided to implement, (2) the community preparedness steps taken by the readiness and disaster recovery teams in the community where you live, or (3) the risk management and business continuity plans decided by management to support the organizational resilience objectives of the company where you work.  Nonetheless, our staff recommends this report as a valuable reading resource to be added to your preparedness related reading list.

A quick summary of some of the other major finding in this study are:

  1. Examples from last-year’s disasters in the rich world show that investment in disaster risk reduction and preparedness pay off and are cheaper than post-disaster reconstruction.
  2. Disaster plans and defenses need to be adjusted to a new and shifting “normal.”
  3. The interconnections between disasters (especially mega-disasters), media coverage and humanitarian funding means that humanitarian funding tends to be directed toward disasters that have higher media coverage rather than to those with disaster-affected populations in greater need of assistance.
  4. More work is needed to recognize the positive contributions which older people can make in reducing the risks from disasters, in disaster response and in recovery and reconstruction.
  5.  Developed countries were particularly hard-hit by disasters in 2011 as evidenced by floods in Australia, earthquakes in New Zealand, an earthquake/tsunami in Japan and a series of disasters in the United States. While natural disasters result in higher economic losses in rich countries, fewer people tend to be affected and loss of life is less than in developing countries.
  6. Several positive trends in international humanitarian response were evident in the course of 2011, including promising developments in international disaster law, greater emphasis on disaster risk reduction and preparedness, and better communications during crises, including the use of social media in disaster response.

Click here to read a short article written by Elizabeth Ferris and Daniel Petz for more details and information regarding the summary points listed above as well as others stated in the executive summary of the report.

Click here to read and download the full Brookings Institution report.

If applicable, please pass this information along to those risk management and business continuity planning teams in your company, those first responder and disaster recovery training teams in your community, and to those family members who recognize the need to promote personal preparedness skills within their families and to their friends.  It is also a good reading resource for those private sector entities working on their PS-Prep strategy planning activities.

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