An increase in people living in precarious conditions, poverty, environmental degradation and climate change have been making India prone to intense disasters. These conditions that lead to precipitation extremes are giving a rise to water-related calamities, said a study recently released by the Asian Development Bank.
India faces the second most number of intense floods in the world after China, according to EM-DAT data. The paper, titled Climate-Related Disasters in Asia and the Pacific , shows an association between the rise in floods and storms and more precipitation and dryness linked to rising green house gases and temperatures.
According to EM-DAT data, Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam are at exceptional risk.
The study shows that population density is a significant factor that drives hydrometeorological natural disasters (floods, storms), both statistically and economically. Specifically, a one per cent increase in population density is associated with a 1.2 per cent to 1.8 per cent increase in the frequency of intense hydrometeorological disasters. This suggests that economies that are more densely populated, like India, are more likely to incur over 100 deaths or have over 1,000 people affected when a storm or flood hits.
“The analogy is this: economists know that if you pump more money into the system, inflation is likely; but the actual rise in prices in July could be because of a bad crop on top of the effect of money supply. Here too, it is hard to pin a particular disaster to climate change, but the body of evidence points to the likely link,” said Vinod Thomas, Director General of Independent Evaluation at the Asian Development Bank.
High population exposure and worsening climate trends, related to natural disasters in Asia and the Pacific, loom over the region’s economic success and affect its strategic importance in the global economy.
“The region’s population continues to rise relative to the global total, and its economy helps drive global economic growth. Yet, global manufacturing has moved to some very hazard-prone and ill-prepared areas. The Thailand floods of 2011 and their huge impact on the supply of computer hard drives and auto parts is one example,” says the paper.
The paper also supports the idea that poorer populations are more vulnerable to intense natural disasters. The study found that less poor economies — those with less than 30 per cent of the population living below $1.25 Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) a day — are less likely to experience a lower frequency of intense natural disasters than economies with higher poverty incidence.
The study suggests an action plan for India to mitigate the dangers. Building resilience by spreading disaster awareness, environmental protection and reducing carbon footprints are some of the suggestions.