This regional disaster report for Latin America and the Caribbean seeks to understand how past trends can lead to a safer futurea safer and more prepared future. The report comes amid projections of an above-normal 2023 Atlantic hurricane season that has already affected parts of the Caribbean and of the El Niño phenomenon persisting through the remainder of the year with potentially devastating effects in vulnerable communities across Central America and South America.
Latin America and the Caribbean is the second most disaster-prone region in the world 190 million affected by 1,534 disasters (2000-2022). Along with high physical exposure to hazards, the region has a complex environment of risk drivers, including climate change; dense urban populations; slow economic growth; widening inequality and poverty; political instability; displacement and mass migration; and high levels of violence. These intertwining risks create situations of vulnerability and heavily impact the capacity of a population to prepare, respond and recover from a disaster.
With highly populated urban and low-lying coastal areas, the region has some of the highest physical exposure to hazards.
Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of severe weather-related events across the region. By 2050, over 17 million people in Latin America could be forced to migrate to escape the impacts of slow-onset climate change.
Since 2000, economic growth has been incredibly volatile in the region. According to the World Bank, in 2020, the region saw an average GDP loss of 6.6 per cent while 2021 saw an average increase of 6.5 per cent.
Latin America and the Caribbean have the highest levels of inequality in terms of income distribution. Between 2009 and 2020, 40.8% of the region's population were living below the national poverty line.
Violence remains a common reality for many people across the Latin America and Caribbean region. Despite making up only 8% of the world’s population, the region accounts for more than 30% of global intentional homicides (UNODC data) – the intentional homicide rate per 100,000 people is almost 4 times the global average (21.2 vs 5.6 in 2020).
Latin America and the Caribbean face the world's largest migration crisis. Some 6.8 million Venezuelans alone have fled their homes, with more than 80% settling in other countries in the region. Movement from northern Central American countries has continued with high numbers arriving at the US Southern border.