The international community needs to rethink how it will reduce risk and prepare for and respond to future humanitarian disasters, according to the 2011 World Disasters Report just-released by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The report notes that three mega-disasters in 2010 and 2011 – the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, massive flooding in Pakistan in July 2010, and the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan –  underscore the exponential change in crisis scale and impact and the increasingly interconnected nature of disasters.

Whatever the characteristics of past vulnerabilities, it is increasingly apparent that the dimensions and dynamics of humanitarian crises are changing exponentially and that those concerned with reducing disaster risks and their impacts will have to take both into account.”

Data included in the report show that natural disasters resulted in 297,752 deaths in 2010, making it the deadliest year of the decade. The majority of deaths in 2010 (222,570) were attributable to the January 2010 Haiti earthquake, which was the second deadliest natural disaster of the decade (after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami).

Of the 304 million people reported affected by natural disasters in 2010, more than 60 percent were victims of floods, according to the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED).

The most severe occurred in China (134 million people affected) and in the Indus river basin in Pakistan (more than 20 million). Six other floods affected one to nine million people for a total of 23 million.

Natural disaster costs ($123.3 billion) were the fourth highest of the decade, after 2005 ($240.4 billion, 2010 prices), 2008 ($193.3 billion, 2010 prices) and 2004 ($155.8 billion, 2010 prices).

The London Guardian’s Datablog has more on the findings.

Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on global catastrophes.