Australia suffered the most costly disasters in 2013, while the Philippines had the highest death toll, the World Disasters Report reveals.

Australia copped the most costly natural disasters last year, while the Philippines suffered the most deadly, a report reveals.

Almost 100 million people were affected by disasters in 2013, and nearly 90 per cent of them live in the Asia-Pacific, according to the World Disasters Report released on Thursday.

Despite the large figure, the number of disasters and people affected are the lowest in the past decade.

In Australia, Cyclone Oswald in Queensland and two major fires in NSW and Tasmania cost the nation more than $2.7 billion.

About 77,720 people were affected by disasters in Australia and the Pacific, while Typhoon Haiyan claimed nearly 8000 lives in the Philippines.

Floods remain the most frequent type of natural disaster, followed by storms.

Despite the havoc wreaked, the Red Cross says damage was reduced by spending money preparing for disasters.

More than 25.6 million people in disaster-prone areas across 121 countries benefited from risk reduction efforts, the Red Cross says.

But without an understanding of cultural factors, efforts to combat disaster impacts were restrained.

Australian Red Cross head of international program Peter Walton says the link between cultural understanding and reducing risks around disasters plays a big role in saving lives.

Mr Walton cited the current Ebola outbreak.

“In Sierra Leone, a religious figure recently convinced a million people to get up in the middle of the night and wash with salt water while reading from the Bible, to protect themselves from Ebola,” he said.

“Salt water does not protect people from Ebola. Whilst soapy water and weak chlorine solution can kill the Ebola virus, incidents like these show that agencies need to work effectively with a broad range of community leaders to minimise risks and dangers to the public in emergencies.”

People respond to disasters better and recover more quickly if they are well-prepared, with education keeping in mind cultural beliefs, he says.