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Open AccessArticle

Time-Series Study of Associations between Rates of People Affected by Disasters and the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Cycle

1
Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
2
Department of Public Health, Environments and Society, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1H 9SH, UK
3
Centre for Climate Change and Planetary Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1H 9SH, UK
4
Department of Geography, Durham University, Durham DH1 3LE, UK
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(17), 3146; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16173146
Received: 31 July 2019 / Revised: 16 August 2019 / Accepted: 24 August 2019 / Published: 28 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Public Health Effects of Natural and Technological Disasters)
The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a major driver of climatic variability that can have far reaching consequences for public health globally. We explored whether global, regional and country-level rates of people affected by natural disasters (PAD) are linked to ENSO. Annual numbers of PAD between 1964–2017 recorded on the EM-DAT disaster database were combined with UN population data to create PAD rates. Time-series regression was used to assess de-trended associations between PAD and 2 ENSO indices: Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) and multivariate El Niño Index (MEI). Over 95% of PAD were caused by floods, droughts or storms, with over 75% of people affected by these three disasters residing in Asia. Globally, drought-related PAD rate increased sharply in El Niño years (versus neutral years). Flood events were the disaster type most strongly associated with El Niño regionally: in South Asia, flood-related PAD increased by 40.5% (95% CI 19.3% to 65.6%) for each boundary point increase in ONI (p = 0.002). India was found to be the country with the largest increase in flood-related PAD rates following an El Niño event, with the Philippines experiencing the largest increase following La Niña. Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI)-analyses showed consistent results. These findings can be used to inform disaster preparedness strategies. View Full-Text
Keywords: El Niño Southern Oscillation; natural disasters; number of people affected; El Niño; La Niña; Oceanic Niño Index (ONI) El Niño Southern Oscillation; natural disasters; number of people affected; El Niño; La Niña; Oceanic Niño Index (ONI)
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Lam, H.C.Y.; Haines, A.; McGregor, G.; Chan, E.Y.Y.; Hajat, S. Time-Series Study of Associations between Rates of People Affected by Disasters and the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Cycle. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 3146.

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