Victims of natural hazards (i61)

In 2022, there were 3.73 victims of natural hazards per 100,000 persons in Belgium. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, the average over the period 2020-2030 should be lower than 1.97. Due to the very high number of victims in 2021, 880 per 100,000 persons to be precise, this target can no longer be met. Thus, the result of the evaluation is unfavorable.

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Victims of natural hazards - Belgium - trend assessment

number per 100,000 inhabitants

objective: maximum 2020-2030 average (data 04/09/2023)1.971.971.971.971.971.971.971.971.97

EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain, 2023, Brussels, Belgium, and (consulted on 04/09/2023); and Eurostat (2023), Population on 1 July [demo_gind], (consulted on 05/09/2023).

Victims of natural hazards - Belgium and international comparison

number per 100,000 inhabitants

EU271 433.6729.0618.52140.772.1856.8734.0642.23

EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain, 2023, Brussels, Belgium, and (consulted on 04/09/2023); and Eurostat (2023), Population on 1 July [demo_gind], (consulted on 05/09/2023).

Victims of natural hazards by category - Belgium

number per 100,000 inhabitants


EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain, 2023, Brussels, Belgium, and (consulted on 04/09/2023); and Eurostat (2023), Population on 1 July [demo_gind], (consulted on 05/09/2023).

Definition: victims of natural hazards can be divided into the following categories.

  • Fatal victims.

    • Dead: persons who died during the disaster.

    • Missing: persons whose whereabouts since the disaster are unknown and who are presumed deceased based on official figures.
  • Non-fatal victims.

    • Homeless: persons whose homes have been destroyed or severely damaged by the disaster and who therefore need shelter.

    • Injured: persons with physical injury, trauma or illness requiring immediate medical attention as a direct result of the disaster.

    • Affected persons: persons in need of immediate assistance as a direct result of the natural disaster.

The indicator is expressed per 100,000 inhabitants. The Federal Planning Bureau calculates the indicator for Belgium and the EU27 on the basis of data from EM-DAT - the International Disaster Database - and population data from Eurostat. The latter corresponds to the data as at 1 July each year.

The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) at UCLouvain manages the EM-DAT data. The EM-DAT definition of a disaster considers unintended hazards with a substantial unforeseen impact on a community (EM-DAT, 2023). For management and operational purposes, EM-DAT has a set of entry criteria that specify what substantial impact means. EM-DAT disaster records related to natural and technological hazards meet at least one of the following inclusion criteria: at least ten deaths (including dead and missing), at least 100 affected (people affected, injured, or homeless) or a call for international assistance or an emergency declaration. There are, however, secondary criteria, especially for past events where quantitative data were not available (e.g., “the worst disaster in a country or region” or “an event that resulted in considerable damage”). Note that the data for the EU27 do not cover areas that are part of an EU Member State but do not belong to the European continent (DOM-TOM for example).

To calculate the indicator, the Federal Planning Bureau takes into account the following natural hazards.

  • Geophysical: volcanic activity (ash fall, lahar or volcanic mudflow, pyroclastic flow, lava flow), mass movement (rockfall, landslide, avalanche, subsidence from geophysical origin) and earthquake (ground movement, tsunami).

  • Meteorological: extreme temperature, storm and fog.

  • Hydrological: landslide (from hydrological origin) and flood.

  • Climatological: wildfire and drought.

Natural hazards belonging to the (sub)groups "biological" (including epidemic, insect infestation and animal accident) and "extra-terrestrial" (impact caused by asteroids or comets) are not considered here.

The CRED continuously improves and completes EM-DAT data, in particular with the aim of improving the data about heat waves (for example adding the number of people hospitalized following a heat wave), epidemics and economic damage.

Goal: the average annual rate of victims of natural hazards must be less than 1.97 victims per 100,000 inhabitants during the decade 2020-2030.

The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs adopted by the UN in 2015 include target 13.1: "Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries".

Besides target 13.1, the SDGs also include the following targets: "By 2030 build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations, and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters” (target 1.5) "By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations” (target 11.5).

In the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction seven global goals were set to reduce the risk of disasters and the losses they cause (UN, 2015; UNDRR, 2023). The first of these goals is to significantly reduce global disaster mortality by 2030, with a target of reducing the average number of fatal victims per 100,000 worldwide between 2020-2030 compared to the 2005-2015 average. The second global goal aims to reduce the average number of non-fatal victims per 100,000 globally between 2020-2030 also compared to the 2005-2015 average.

Based on the data presented here, the average number of fatal and non-fatal victims in Belgium, during the reference period 2005-2015, is equal to 1.15 and 0.82 per 100,000 inhabitants, respectively. Consequently, during the 2020-2030 reference period, the total number of victims (fatal and non-fatal) should be lower than 1.97 per 100,000 population. This figure is used here as the target for total victims.

The Sendai Framework for Action has initiated a process to make available statistics on disaster victims and the losses they cause. The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction is in charge of this. Belgium has been actively participating in this reporting process since 2022. The National Crisis Centre is the National Focal Point for Belgium.

International comparison: in 2022, there were 42.2 victims of natural hazards per 100,000 inhabitants in the EU27. In 2021 this data was 34.1. Compared to the EU27, Belgium has significantly fewer victims of natural hazards per 100,000 inhabitants, except for the disastrous year 2021.

In the EU27 as well, peak periods and periods with fewer or no victims of natural hazards are observed. The year 1990 was particularly disastrous with 1,434 victims per 100,000 inhabitants in the EU27 due to a draught in Spain, affecting 6 million people. The year 1999 was also particularly disastrous with 913 victims per 100,000 inhabitants in the EU27. This high number can be largely explained by the two strong extratropical storms in France.

UN indicator: the selected indicator corresponds to indicator 13.1.1 - Number of deaths, missing persons and directly affected persons attributed to disasters per 100,000 population. This indicator is also used to monitor the targets in the SDGs No poverty (indicator 1.5.1) and Sustainable cities and communities (indicator 11.5.1).


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