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Strategies for Disaster Risk Management

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I. Background

Natural disasters have always posed a threat to development. Developing countries are usually far less well placed than industrialised ones to deal effectively with hazards that occur out of the blue. The first priority must be to reduce people's (men, women and young people) vulnerability to natural hazards such as earthquakes, floods and storms and to avoid the emergence of new risks, in order to secure the progress of development. Disaster risk management is therefore crucial to sustainable development. It is closely linked with the overarching Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing poverty (M D G 1); in many parts of the world this goal cannot be achieved without it.

In its report “Towards Halving Poverty” the German Government again emphasised this link:

“Disaster relief on its own is not enough. In order to save human lives effectively and protect individuals and economies from physical damage in the long term, everything possible must be done before a natural disaster occurs to minimise the impact. Disaster prevention is therefore an important part of any sustainable development strategy”. (Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (B M Z), 2004: page32)

In recent years the need for disaster risk management has increased as a result of the rise in the number of damaging natural events.

Some global trends (such as increasing population pressure on natural resources in some regions, urbanisation and widening economic disparities) are likely to further amplify the risks arising from an increase in the number and intensity of hazardous natural events. As a result of climate change, disaster risk management is facing challenges on an unprecedented scale. In conjunction with these developments, we are seeing a growing risk of crises and conflicts, in particular those arising from competition for vital resources. By dealing appropriately and gender-sensitively with natural disasters and climate change, however, we can go some way to defusing the conflict potential.

Disaster risk management is first and foremost the responsibility of the affected country. It is particularly important in countries exposed to major natural risks. In such countries, elements of disaster risk management should increasingly be incorporated as standard practice into national development strategies (such as poverty reduction strategies) and other local, national plans. This presupposes that the statutory and institutional framework required is in place. Entry points for effective action must be identified for each sector. The examples presented in this publication have shown that their education of disaster risks can be addressed at many levels. However, it is always important that the people potentially affected are sensitised and given the information they need, so that they can react promptly; they are directly involved at the scene of the event.

Natural hazards and disasters are events that are frequently result in high death tolls and large economic losses which is now becoming a major concerned to international community because of large impact of life losses and economic losses in developing countries. Why is natural hazards and disasters occurring so frequently now a days and how did man increases vulnerability. Population growth, run away organization, high rise building, uses of limited rescores, environment damage etc are just some of the factor explaining the sources of frequent natural hazards which leads to human and material casualties in case of disaster. If there is a risk of natural hazard then large population area is most vulnerable and the impact of disaster will also be high. The traditional way to cope with disaster was using warning before disaster strikes and emergency relief after disaster occurs and the government agency would only play its role in coping disaster. This approach is adequate to reduce losses in disaster to acceptable levels

Due to frequent natural disaster taking place and large of life and economic losses, international community came to the point that by implanting “Community Base Management Approach” is a process in which at-risk communities are actively engaged in the identification, analysis, treatment, monitoring and evaluation of disaster risks in order to reduce their vulnerabilities and enhance their capacities Disasters can become uncontrollable, once the event has got underway. If the community were not well prepared, control over the disaster event would be usually lost during its occurrence. If each individual in the community is familiar with ways of coping and precautionary measures, then the disruption by a disaster can be reduced. This “Community Base Approach” where community plays an anchor role with the support of Government, non-government institution agencies. The involvement of the communities is the key aspect for the sustainability of community for disaster reduction. External agencies, like government, non-government organizations may begin and implement community level programs before and after disasters. However, such initiative many times discontinue once the external support is ended. There can be many reasons behind this lack of sustainability, some of which may be the lack of partnership, participation, empowerment and ownership of local communities.

All communities have some vitally important assets to deal with disasters. These may include knowledge of disaster warning signs, locally safe and vulnerable areas, experience of past disasters, methods of survival and social relations that are often vitally important in coping with crisis. Local communities have an active part to play before and after disasters so it is therefore important to involve people in decision making on policies and strategies that should be followed for their development in the community. The objective of this management is to prepare community develop hazards mitigation plans before disaster strikes. An effective plan will improve community's ability to deal with natural disasters and most efficient and effective ways to reduce losses to life and property. Preparing a plan will provide the following benefits to the community:

  • Reduce public and private damage costs
  • Reduce social, emotional, and economic disruption;
  • Increase access to funding sources for hazard mitigation projects
  • Improve ability to implement post-disaster recovery projects by using risk management tools.
  • More number of lives can be saved during the first few hours after disaster has occurred through local response teams, before help arrives from elsewhere.
  • The numerous problems of survival and health resulting from a disaster are dealt with more efficiently, if the community is active and well organized.

The social and economic cost of natural disasters has increased in recent years due to population growth, change in land use patterns, migration and unplanned urbanization, environmental degradation and global climate change.[16] In addition to the loss of lives and major destruction of economic and social infrastructure, natural disasters set back poverty reduction programs and cause diversion of government funds to pay for reconstruction and recovery efforts. There has been little formal analysis of the longer-term impacts of disasters in the Philippines but annual infrastructure losses and related diversion of scarce public resources must ultimately have an impact on the country's long-term sustainable development

II. Research Questions

Following are the three research questions on which I will conduct my research.

  • In the first part, I will identify the hazards and their impact on third world countries and then I will analyze what are the risks associated with the natural disasters in third world countries.
  • In the second part, I will illustrate the case to support the discussion above, and impact of climate change and mapping of disaster prone area of each South Asian countries.

1. Research Methodology

The research onion described by Mark Saunders, Philip Lewis and Adrian Thornhill (2006) is used to analyze the philosophy, approach and strategy of research.

a) Philosophy

The major philosophy used in this research used is ‘Realism'. According to Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill (2007), realism is a branch of epistemology which is similar to positivism in that it assumes a scientific approach to the development of knowledge. This assumption underpins the collection of data and the understanding of that data. Bhaskar (1989) argues that we can identify what we don't see through the practical and theoretical processes of the social sciences. The objective of the research is to assess the impact of climate change and mapping of disaster prone area of each South Asian countries. so ontology is not the right choice for this particular research as according to Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill (2007), it is concerned with the nature of reality.

b) Approach

The research has employed inductive as well as deductive approach. Since, one of the main objectives of the research is to out the impact of climate change and mapping of disaster prone area of each South Asian countries, therefore inductive approach has been used extensively. Only where there is a requirement of analyzing the quantitative data, deductive approach will be used.

The research approach influences design and gives the researcher the opportunity to consider how each of the various approaches may contribute to, or limit, his study (Creswell, 2003). For research theory there are two main approaches which are mainly used i.e. deductive and inductive approach. Firstly the analysis of the collected data, and then a theory or hypothesis is formulated, this is inductive approach. In contrast, a deductive approach is where, after reviewing the existing theory, hypothesis is developed which is then tested by conducting a research (Bryman, and Bell 2007)

The study for will follow Inductive approach for two reasons. In the first place the research involves observation of past disasters, impact of this disaster with s of death and economic losses and currently number of people living in prone disaster areas. In the second place, the inductive approach appears more appropriate to the purpose of this study which is to gather the problem facing to implementing disaster management plan and roles of public and private sector in making strategy and policies with sustainability of the plan.

c) Strategy

There are two types of research strategies i.e. qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative research strategy is the general orientation to conduct business research. It usually focuses on “words” instead of statistical analysis of data. It usually involves inductive approach to the relationship of theory and research. The main aim is to generate a theory. Interviewing the expatriate is the main purpose of this research (Bryman and Bell, 2007).

On the other hand, quantitative research strategy focuses more on the “quantification” in collection and analysis of data. It usually involves deductive approach to the relationship of theory and research. Testing the theories in the main purpose in quantitative research (Bryman and Bell, 2007)

Some common contrasts between qualitative and quantitative research.

Qualitative Quantitative

Words Numbers

Point of views of participants Point of views of researchers

Researcher close Researcher distant

Theory emergent Theory testing

Process Static

Unstructured Structured

Contextual understanding Generalized

Rich, deep data Hard, reliable data

Micro Macro

Meaning Behaviour

Natural settings Artificial settings

(Source: Bryman and Bell, 2007: 426)

The strategy of this research will maintain both strategy but quantitative will be more domains on qualitative strategy. Quantitative strategy will provide base on which qualitative strategy will dependable on. According to Burgess, 1982 “There are several reasons for using the qualitative research. First reason is the belief of the researcher which is based upon the research experience. The other important point is that most researchers use this method, hoping that their work has direct or potential relevance for academic as well as non-academic audiences. All methods have advantages and disadvantages but some methods are still better than the other in order to obtain primary data. Small numbers of participants are used to obtain primary data in this research. In-depth interview is a form of conversation”. (Burgess, 1982)

d) Data Analysis Approach

The research is mainly comprised of qualitative data and will be inductive in nature; hence analytical induction approach will be used to make the critical remarks. Other theories do not cope with the philosophy, approach and strategy of the research and cannot be used for that reason.

Geographic Information System (GIS) tools help to answer questions like who is vulnerable, where they are and why they are vulnerable. GIS was used to identify vulnerable areas using statistical tools. Although the data generated are usually integrated in the form of tables, graphs and/or charts, maps have the advantage of presenting data in an easily accessible, readily visible and eye-catching manner. The resulting maps combine information from different sectors to provide an immediately comprehensive picture of the geographical distribution of vulnerable group. By providing a visual overview on the major issues, maps highlight gaps and shortfalls in information and thus areas needing attention. A GIS based approach is helpful for highly disaggregated data; it can easily perform statistical analysis as well as graphic presentation.

2. Sampling

Sample population consists of a number of third world countries such as India, Bangaldesh and Pakistan which are the focus of some of the key disaster in recent years will be under the main focus. Because of the special nature of this research, the data collection points are huge. Henry (1990) advised against using probability sampling technique for sample population of less than 50. Because of the short time span and financial constraints the research will employ homogenous sampling technique. Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill (2007) argue that homogenous sampling technique focuses on one sub group in which all the sample members are similar. This will help us to cover the topic in detail.

3. Data Collection

The research employees both qualitative and quantitative data techniques to draw conclusions. However, main emphasis will be given to collect and analyze the qualitative data. The plan of the research will be mainly to use primary data collected from both primary and secondary sources. In this approach different historical data were used to point out the areas and communities which experienced the disaster situation in the past and their present risk and degree of vulnerability. This is more like, learning from past mistake and applying new strategy and plan which was missing in the past. This approach is very helpful in making strategy, determining policies, identifying natural hazard area and communities and implanting plan.

According to Jackson (1994) the value of a research is related to its data collection methods and importantly, whether or not it includes both secondary and primary data. Data for the study were collected in two sources: primary and secondary sources. Both primary and secondary data sources were analyzed together to strengths the material and minimize their weaknesses by combining them in respectable way. There are many methods to collect the primary data, but this research will more focus on Literature review, case studies, bibliography, questionnaire and GIS techniques. All these method can be qualitative and quantitative in nature

Mostly secondary data of this study included records and latest reports available from the CRED disaster database. Other sources such as articles, textbooks, journals, annual reports, websites etc were also very helpful and used to support reports.

Two types of data were used for obtaining data from different reports. Historic data and GIS (geographic Information System) based mapping data.

a) Secondary Sources of Data

Secondary data will be of utmost importance in this research. Information will be acquired from reliable sources. Priority will be given to government sources in order to provide accurate information. Online website such as Business Monitor Online will be used comprehensively because they contain most up-to-date information. Journals and articles will be used extensively as well because explanation of data from these sources will be more accurate. This research will also include statistical analysis where information will be easily accessible from company reports, IMF Reports, World Bank Reports and government websites.

4. Limitations of the Research

There will be a lot of limitations and restrictions in carrying out the desired research. There are limitations associated with the available and up to date data on the third world countries. The questionnaire in research project is to support findings which will be drawn from secondary data but insufficient funds and time restriction may hold back the collection of primary data. The qualitative data analysis also poses threat because it may involve human judgment errors.

3. Literature Review
3.1 Introduction

In this chapter the objectives of the study will focus on the impact of climate change and mapping of disaster prone area of each South Asian countries. Research of this mapping is mapped on the base of district level which covers whole region of South Asia. District is divided according to Administrative division of its related country. So the size, population, geological location and climate condition will vary each other although it is situated in same provinces. The mapping of these districts is related to high and medium level of risk to natural events is included in this table. Some district has been promoted to disaster prone district although there have been no evidence of such natural events in past but due to certain factors like rises of sea level, earth quake zone, change in climate condition etc, makes these districts highly exposed to natural events in future. Such as Maldives, although there have been no evidence of tsunami for past 100 years but due to rise in sea level and located in earth quake zone whole Maldives is at high risk to flood and tsunami.

This table is made on the bases of related to human life and economic losses. So Natural event like wild fire which is very frequent in Nepal and Burma has been excluded from the table because the impact on human life's and economic losses are very low, although its impact on environmental is very high.

3.2 Disaster

The term disaster can be defined as "A serious disruption of the functioning of society, causing widespread human, material or environmental losses which exceed the ability of affected society to cope using only its own resources."

This notion of disaster draws a distinction between sudden and slow onset disasters.

Amongst natural disasters extreme droughts are the only ones that are slow onset by nature. The causes and effects of a drought disaster are far more difficult to ascertain than sudden natural events such as earthquakes, tsunamis or landslides. Due to the gradual nature of the process, often taking place over months and even years, the causes are more complex and it is often only possible to identify the effects indirectly.

However, not every extreme natural event is a disaster. A volcanic eruption in an unoccupied area is a natural event but not a disaster. Floods can also have many beneficial effects - the soil is supplied with fresh nutrients and made more fertile again, resulting in higher yields. So, disasters always have adverse impacts but specific approaches to them must cater for the dual nature of such events, i.e. disaster risk management searches to maintain the positive impacts while reducing the adverse consequences of extreme natural events.

3.2 Disaster Risk Management

Technical Cooperation defines disaster risk management as a series of actions (programmes, projects and/or measures) and instruments expressly aimed at reducing disaster risk in endangered regions, and mitigating the extent of disasters.

Disaster risk management includes risk assessment, disaster prevention and mitigation and disaster preparedness. It is used in the international debate to underscore the current trend of taking a proactive approach to hazards posed by extreme natural phenomena. The intention is a comprehensive reduction in disaster risk accounting for all the factors that contribute to risk (risk management), as opposed to a focus on each individual danger.

Disaster risk management consists of the following elements:

I. Risk Analysis

II. Disaster Prevention and Mitigation

III. Disaster Preparedness and

IV. Disaster Preventive Reconstruction

There is a risk of natural disaster when a society is exposed to natural hazards but lack adequate means and ability to protect itself from potential negative impacts i.e. vulnerability. The risk management process analyzes the natural hazard in relation to the society's vulnerability, in order to first evaluate potential damage and losses. This involves calculating the probability that a natural hazard will occur, identifying vulnerability factors in society, drawing up damage scenarios and evaluating measures for rapid reconstruction in the even of a disaster. A society's ability to continue to function while dealing with a hazard is known as its resilience. Prevention and mitigation covers activities whose long term aim is to mitigate the possible adverse impacts of a natural even and its consequences and provide permanent protection against its effects. Prevention and mitigation measures may be constructional and non material. The process of preparedness enables the country to respond effectively in case of an imminent disaster. Important elements in the process of preparedness include making the emergency plans, the availability of rescue and emergency services, emergency medical care, rapid and efficient transmission of warnings and the availability of means of communication. An important component of preparedness is the early waning system which significantly reduces the impact of disaster. A good early warning system will promptly identify and assess a hazard. Warnings are issued to the affected population and institutions, who respond appropriately. Disaster preventive reconstruction aims to draw appropriate lessons from the natural disaster and to include disaster reduction criteria and measures directly in the reconstruction process.

Disaster Risk Management Process

3.3 Vulnerability of South Asian Countries to Disasters

Vulnerability can be defined as the inadequate means or ability to protect oneself against the adverse impacts of natural events and, on the other hand, to recover quickly from their effects. The South Asian countries of the world are vulnerable to a number of factors. These factors comprise of very diverse, often mutually reciprocal, factors that have to be taken into account to determine the vulnerability of a family, a village or a country. The main vulnerability factors of developing countries to disasters are summarized below:
* Political-Institutional Factors

One of the important vulnerable factors of developing countries to natural disaster is political and institutional factor. The role of legislation is lacking and also it is not commensurate with the hazard or is not implemented (regional development and land use planning, building regulations). The personnel and financial resources available for disaster risk management and preparedness are inadequate. Roles are not properly or clearly assigned and there is a lack of coordination in and amongst the responsible institutions (including centralism: insufficient power for local actors) in developing countries. The political culture is conducive to vested interests and corruption, which hampers consistent disaster risk management (e.g. in the building trade) and effective disaster preparedness. The Democratic institutions in developing countries are underdeveloped and also low level of participation of the population in democratic processes diminishes their self-help capabilities is very low. Also the mechanisms and instruments for spreading financial risks are lacking or inadequate (e.g. disaster funds, insurance). A culture of prevention is obstructed or insufficiently promoted. All of these above mentioned make the developing nation more vulnerable to the natural disasters.
* Economic factors

Another important vulnerable factor of developing countries to natural disaster is then economic factor. In developing countries the financial resources are insufficient for disaster risk management (e.g. for flood protection infrastructure). Also the level of poverty in general limits the self-help capabilities of large parts of the population, although very effective traditional mechanisms to cope with disasters still exist in many developing countries. In the developing countries poverty increasingly compels people to settle in endangered areas (on riverbanks and steep slopes, in gulleys or ravines or on the slopes of volcanoes). Partly through environmental degradation (e.g. unofficial garbage dumps or slash-and-burn clearance), poor people often contribute to their own higher disaster risk. The economies of developing countries also depend on a few products (low level of diversification) and the danger is particularly great if these sectors are vulnerable to disaster (e.g. agriculture). Not enough account is taken of the influence of economic activities on disaster risk (e.g. consumption of natural resources).
* Sociocultural factors

Socio cultural factor also play an important role in making the developing countries vulnerable to natural disasters. In developing countries due to poor education and insufficient knowledge of the cause-effect matrix, people are less able to respond appropriately in a changing environment. Also fatalism is widespread as a consequence of the belief that natural disasters are willed by God and are therefore inevitable. In developing countries the tradition of slash-and-burn clearance or the application of out-dated production methods can result in greater vulnerability for people and their property. On the other hand it may result in greater hazard due to the adverse impact on the natural environment (e.g. erosion through deforestation). The population is not prepared to engage in mutual support schemes and organize themselves in order to negotiate competing interests in the search for greater levels of general welfare. These political, economic and cultural factors are interconnected in a complex way. They have a reciprocal relationship and often compound each other. Progress in individual aspects, therefore, may well also have a positive effect on other vulnerability factors. A general improvement in school education, for instance, can be expected to help reduce poverty, facilitate the application of appropriate production methods and raise organizational abilities. This in turn can motivate people for prevention, thus generating a positive influence on the political factors through greater participation.

3.4 Impact and Threat of Climate Change

The major impacts and threats of global warming are well-known. Recent increase in global temperature as already experienced intensity and extreme events, for example frequent occurrence of flood and intensity of heat wave. On the other hand global warming will increase melting water from glaciers and ice sheets which will cause sea level to rise and also has the potential to influence global patterns of ocean circulation respectively. This causes thermal expansion of the oceans.

Climate change will have wide-ranging effects on the environment, socio-economic and related sectors, including water resources, agriculture, food security, human health, global ecosystems, biodiversity and coastal zones. Some of the impact and threat had already been experienced and if this continued in current way which will affect the global ecosystem in the following way.


1. Changes in rainfall pattern

1. Will lead to severe shortage of water and causes drought around the globe

2. Will increase average rainfall and causes severe flooding around the globe.

3. It will have unpleasant impact on agriculture and traditional subsistence-based agriculture. This becomes more vulnerable and difficult which will eventually affecting the economic well-being of the local famers.

2. Melting of glaciers

1. Many rivers and lakes formed by melting of glacier water will grow in size and causes flooding recently which pose threat to nearby villages but very soon when there will be no glacial melt, this causes them to dry up and spread drought.

2. If the melting of glaciers continues on the current rate, all Farmlands which depend on glacial water will dry up and it will lead up to scarcity of food.

3. Sea level will rise and entire communities living on coastal zone always pose threat from increasing sea water level.

4. Many animals, birds, and fish that depend on fresh melting water from glaciers for survival will either reduce in numbers or get wiped out over a period of time.

3. Change in regional temperature

Change in climate patterns will cause shift in crop growing seasons which affects food security. Crops will tend to fail or become unbeneficial where conditions are currently marginal for their production but on the other hand crops may tend to grow successfully in other area where conditions are suitable and has become marginal for other crops.

2. Increase in temperature will speed up the life cycles of both the mosquito and the disease viruses. This will produce smaller adult mosquitoes to feed more often to develop an egg batch, which in turn increases the chances for disease transmission which will put more people at risk from diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.

3. Temperature increases will potentially accelerate rates of extinction for many habitats and species (up to 30% with a 2° C rise in temperature). It will also affect coral reefs, boreal, forests and mountain habitats.

4. Increasing sea levels

1. It will greater the risk of storm surge, inundation and wave damage to coastlines, particularly in small island states and countries with low lying deltas.

2. Fresh underground water on coastal lines will get polluted with salty sea water making it unfit for drinking or irrigation
Who is most Vulnerable to natural hazard?

98% of those killed and affected by natural disasters come from developing countries, underlining the link between poverty and vulnerability to disaster. Rich countries have a far greater ability to reduce the effects of extreme weather events (such as floods and droughts) than developing countries. Proof of this can be found in statistics produced by the Red Cross, which reveal that 22.5 people die per reported disaster in highly developed nations, 145 die per disaster in nations of medium human development. By 2025 over half of all people living in developing countries will be highly vulnerable to floods and storms. (World Disaster report, 2001)

"Natural hazards are a part of life. But hazards only become disasters when people's lives and livelihoods are swept away. The vulnerability of communities is growing due to human activities that lead to increased poverty, greater urban density, environmental degradation and climate change."

UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, October 8 2003, [International Day for Disaster Reduction]

According to Cannon (1994) points out that "it may be true that most of the suffering in disasters is experienced by poor people, it may not be the case that all poor suffer. Nor is it only the poor who suffer, the impact of hazards may well be a factor in creating newly impoverished people"

It is quite clear that the poor are often the most affected by disaster because poverty is an indicator of lack of access to resources and income opportunities. But economic measures are not the only aspect to the vulnerability. Many other factors are also involved which increase vulnerability of the poor to disasters which include,

  • Climate change
  • Unplanned urbanisation,
  • Poor buildings and land use
  • Environmental destruction
  • Political issue
  • Social and geographical factors
  • Community structure and decision making power
  • Cultural and Tradition values

A poor community may be economically vulnerable but on the same time, it may also have social, cultural and political capacities to cope with disasters. Risk reduction strategies for the poor should work towards reducing economic vulnerability and at the same time capitalize on social and cultural capacities of the poor communities.

3.5 Why Is South Asia So Vulnerable to Climate Change?

The region covers a variety of climate zones, including deserts, rangelands, freezing mountains, and humid tropical islands. Due to multi climate features, it makes South Asia most vulnerable region to natural hazard. This region enjoys four seasons every year with four major kinds of natural disasters: Floods, earthquakes, cyclone and droughts. These natural events, which are now more frequent and sever, affected this region very badly leaving thousands of people dead and millions of people homeless. With its geography location there are many other factors which make South Asia vulnerable to climate change.

I. High population levels increases in resource demand with tense and limited natural resource. The population of South Asia is 1.55 billion with an estimated 600 million people earning there living on less than US$1.25 a day. By 2050, the South Asia's population is likely to exceed to 2.2 billion from current level. Even small climate variations can cause irreversible losses and push large numbers people into poverty ditch.

II. The poverty rate is still very high in rural areas. About 70% of people lives a rural area with 75% of the population are poor and mostly of them depends on agriculture for their livelihoods. 60% of the population of this region depends on agricultural sector but contributes only 22% of regional GDP. With the rural area depending its living on agricultural sector, slight affect in the regional climate will have direct negative impact on agricultural sector which will affect the livelihood of the population in the region.

III. This region heavy relay on the monsoon seasons. Monsoon is the most important climate event in the region in term of economic point of view. About three-fifth of the cultivated area is rain-fed, so rural economic of South Asia critically depends timely arrival of monsoon. Over 70% of the region benefits from monsoon abundant harvests which provide them financial stability but when monsoon fails or are extreme heavily, suffering and economic loss is widespread. This is main reason why this region every year suffers heavy losses which is related to hydrological disaster and with the climate change, situation likely to worsen.

IV. The retreating glaciers of the Himalayas could present the most far-reaching challenge to the region. The Himalayas are a vital life-sustaining resource for South Asia. The Himalayan ecosystem supports some 1.5 billion people who live directly in the floodplains of its many rivers (e.g. Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna). The Himalayan system influences monsoon dynamics, acts as a natural reservoir to sustain crops, provides groundwater recharge, and is home to a unique ecosystem with an abundance of endemic species. But with rising temperatures the ice mass of the Himalayas and Hindu Kush is retreating more rapidly than the global average. This poses an unprecedented threat to water supplies, lives, and the economies of the region. With melting glaciers, flood risks would increase in the near future. In the long term, there can be no replacement for the water provided by glaciers, which could result in water shortages at an unparalleled scale. Agriculture and the region's economic structure will need to undergo significant adjustment to cope with these changes. (South Asia Climate Change Strategy report,2009)

V. Region has a long and densely populated coastline with low-lying islands that are at highly risk to sea level. Sea level rise is a main concern in the region. The severe climate change scenarios sea level rise poses an existential threat to Maldives and Bangladesh. This will spread of water-related diseases, and reduced freshwater supplies. Many of the region's most important cities (e.g. Karachi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Cochin) in economic growth are located on the coast and threatened by sea level rise. The immediate impact of sea level rise is on coastal communities and ecosystems. The impact of rise will displace densely populations in large scale inhabited with coastal areas and finish off protective coastal ecosystems. The natural mangroves (Sundarbans) and coral reefs that have helped buffer some of these impacts would vanish, if there is a significant climate change.

“Geography coupled with high levels of poverty and population density has rendered South Asia especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change”

World Bank Lead Environmental Economist for the South Asia Region, Richard Damania, November 25, 2008, [U.N Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland]

3.6 Climate Change and South Asia

South Asia's climate is as diverse as its landscapes. The regions geographic expanse covers a variety of climate zones and ecosystems ranging from lush tropical forests to arid deserts and high altitude forests and lakes. Climate risks in the region reflect these varying conditions with regular droughts, floods, wind storms and tropical cyclones. The region is highly susceptible to natural disasters. More than 750 million people, about half of the region's population, have been affected by at least one natural disaster in the last two decades. The region shares common geological formations and river basins; natural hazards frequently transcend national boundaries. With climate change the frequency and incidence of such natural disasters is projected to increase. (South Asia Climate Change Strategy Report, 2009) Land, water and ecosystems are being threatening which will increase food security in future. The region is highly vulnerable to natural hazards, specially flooding and earthquakes. Impacts of such disasters result in hunger, homeless and exposure to different diseases affecting human survival and well-being.

For example the flooding and storm events in Bangladesh in 2007, there were flooding on the Padma and Brahmaputra Rivers, many districts were affected and 500,000 people had been marooned. 7.5 million People had fled their homes and more than 50,000 people had diarrhea or other waterborne diseases. More than 400,000 people were in temporary shelter. The number of people with flood-related diseases was increasing and about 100,000 people had caught dysentery or diarrhea. The confirmed death toll in Bangladesh was 405 included major storms and flooding in the east and south, as well as heat and drought in central, western and north-eastern regions, killing more than 2700 people and causing USD 20 billion in damages. [2007 South Asian flooding, Wikipedia]

Climate change will affect many sectors, including water, agriculture and food security and agriculture, ecosystems and biodiversity, human health. Many environmental and developmental problems in Asia will get worse by climate change. Looking at different aspect and impact of climate change and what threat South Asia will face in future.

Water Resources

South Asia totally depends on monsoon seasons, so the change in weather and rainfall pattern will increase the risk associated with water-related climate variability are likely to intensify and worsen. Water availability will be highly vulnerable to future climate change.

Floods and Drought

There are two possibility, increase in annual rainfall in some part of the region which will possibly lead to flooding and decrease in annual rainfall in some part of region which will possibly led to drought situation. In both extreme situation the result will be economic losses, this will lead to economic crisis, increase in rate of poverty, increase in disease etc.This region consist large network of river system in the world and nature of this river system is highly flood prone. Floods are part of river system with variable seasonal over flow. When floods are excessive it cause extensive damage. The rivers in the High Himalayas will receive water from the melting of snow and glaciers. The melting season of snow occurs at the same time as the summer monsoon season, so any intensification of the monsoon would cause flood disasters in Himalayan catchments. Countries such as Nepal and Bangladesh would be at risk of increasing flood disasters in the wet season. The intensity of extreme events may be higher in a warmer climate, which would also increase the risk of flash floods in parts of Nepal and Bangladesh (Saleem, Atiq.R, M. Konate, Y.Sokona and H.Reid, 2003). It is projected that flood affected area might increase in South Asia as result of climate change. On the other hand in some part of the region water availability has decline. Monsoonal rainfall over India has decreased by approximately 5 to 8 % since 1950s which might contribute to more intense, longer, or wide spread droughts. Due to climate change droughts vary in their intensity, duration and spatial coverage. (Chung and Ramanathan 2006)

Costal zones and low lying delta

Coastal zones and low lying delta of Bangladesh, Maldives and coastal area of Sri lanka, and India are at risk from sea level rise and more frequent and severe storms due to climate change. Deltas and estuaries will also increasingly suffer from saltwater intrusion, siltation and land loss. Sea level rise will threaten the rich biodiversity of wetlands, as it will decelerate wetland renewal. The impact of global warming on fisheries will depend on how sea-level rise and changes in ocean currents affect the food chain. Increased frequency could lead to a decline in fish larvae abundance in the coastal waters of Asia, which would have a negative impact on fisheries.

Food security and agriculture

Climate change impacts on agriculture in South Asia will be crucial, as agriculture plays a major role in its food production of South Asian population. Climate change will negatively affect crop growth. This will have serious consequences on the level of food production and security in the region. Climate change may cause a decrease in the supply of water and soil moisture during the dry season, which would worsen the available of water supplies and increase the need for irrigation. Rice growing areas may be affected by climate change, and resultant declines in yield would have a significant effect on agricultural trade, economic growth and development. On the other hand increase in rain fall will increase the risk of flood. This will threaten the crops and affect the food production. The level of vulnerability of Bangladesh and India is likely to increase as a result of severe land degradation, soil erosion and sea-level rise. Changes in precipitation and temperature caused by climate change will harm the efficiency of externally applied inputs, such as fertilisers, and this will have a negative impact on food production. In general, mid and high-latitude areas will experience an increase in crop yields, whereas the lower latitude areas will experience declining yields. It appears that climatic variability and change will seriously endanger sustained agricultural production in South Asia in the next decades. Both the duration of the growing period of the crop and the agricultural calendar will be affected by climate change (Saleem, Atiq.R, M. Konate, Y.Sokona and H.Reid, 2003)

Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Climate change is likely to have an effect on the ecosystems and biodiversity of South Asia. Climate change may accelerate damage to freshwater ecosystems such as lakes, marshes and rivers. More than 50,000 ha of coastal land has been damaged by floods in the past few years, and as precipitation is likely to increase with global warming, there may be increased flooding in the future, and this will increase the threat to coastal zones. The Sundarbans of Bangladesh, which supports a diversity of wildlife, are at risk from rising sea level. With a one metre sea level rise, many of its species, such as Bengal tigers, Indian otters, estuarine crocodiles and mud crabs, will be at risk of extinction. Forest fires may increase in number. In Nepal, forest fires in unseasonably high temperatures would threaten the extinction of species such as red pandas, leopards, monkeys and other wild animals. Some rangelands in Nepal are already subject to degradation, so climate change will represent an unwelcome additional stress. Climate change will have a negative impact on desert vegetation, especially on the plants with surface root systems, which utilise precipitation moisture, and will therefore become more vulnerable due to reduced water availability. Climate change may also cause a shift in the dry land types in Asia, with semi-arid dry lands becoming not only drier but also decertified. (Saleem, Atiq.R, M. Konate, Y.Sokona and H.Reid, 2003)

Human Health

Climate change will have a wide range of impacts on human health in the region. With increased temperatures, an increase in the frequency and duration of heat waves can be expected. This will increase the risk of mortality in the older age groups and in Asia's urban poor population. An increase in respiratory and cardiovascular diseases in arid, semi-arid and tropical Asia can also be expected as a result of global warming. (Saleem, Atiq.R, M. Konate, Y.Sokona and H.Reid, 2003)

Global warming will change the occurrence of vector-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever. With an increase in temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns, the distribution of vectors, such as mosquitoes may change. It is possible that these temperature and rainfall changes will expand vector-borne disease ranges into temperate would have serious human health implications.

Water-borne diseases, such as cholera and the diarrhoeal diseases caused by organisms such as giardia, salmonella and cryptosporidium, could become more prevalent in many south Asian countries as a result of global warming.

3.7 Natural disasters and their distribution in South Asia

Climate change and disasters are fast emerging and most major challenges of the 21st century. The contribution of developing countries in emission of greenhouse gases is very little but they are the most vulnerable countries to be affected by climate change. They have low capacity to adapt to these changes and cope with natural events. They will suffer the most from a possible increase in natural disasters such as floods and droughts due to climate change.

A tough mesh of poverty, rampant and unplanned urbanisation, chronic malnutrition, and nightmarish population densities has trapped its people. (Sapir 2002). The main problem of South Asia is socio-economic challenges such as rapid pollution growth, unplanned urbanization, high poverty rate, low literacy rate and the most important large numbers of people to living in disaster-prone areas and sub-optimal shelters which increase vulnerability in this region. These are the main factors which makes societies and communities so vulnerable. If these socio- economic challenges can be solved then the impact of disaster will be 3 to 4 times lesser every year. They will suffer the most from a possible increase in natural disasters such as floods and droughts due to climate change. The serious threat to under development countries poses is to development and poverty reduction in the poorest and most vulnerable regions of the world especially South Asia.

Disaster Profile of South Asian countries

In South Asia there are seven countries i.e. India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan. These all countries are developing countries with income and accommodate a large population of over a billion. The sustained efforts for economic growth of those countries are often interrupted by recurrent natural disasters with considerable impact exacerbating poverty conditions in different parts of the region. Since times of unrecorded history South Asian countries have been facing the onslaught of natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides, etc. The intensity of those disasters differs due to variations of the physiographic and climatic conditions. Here in details of major natural disasters described in south Asian countries. (S.Mahmood, 2002)


India is among the world's most disaster prone areas. India support 1/6th of the world's population on just 2 % of it landmass. Nearly 59 % of India's land area is prone to earthquakes of moderate to very high intensity, 12 % of land is prone to floods, 8% area close coast line is cyclone prone, storm surges and exposed to tsunamis, 2% of land is landslide prone, and 68% of India's land is affected by droughts. Out of 35 States and Union Territories, almost 27 are disaster prone (Ashok.K, 2009)

According CRED report 2008, India had occupied top ranking in the disaster occurring during last three years. 1 show, India is third place in the chart with 1808 were victims to natural event and 95% of victims were to Hydrological disaster in 2008. This proofs that disasters in India are water related and communities living near costal line and rivers are most vulnerable. On the other hand 2 shows second place in the chart with 14 million victims due to mortality with dense population living in disaster prone area.

Top three counties by victims in 2008 Top three countries in terms of disaster mortality 2008

Source- Annual Disaster Statistical Review 2008 the number and trends www.emdat.be/Documents/Publications/ADSR_2008.pdf

The threat posed to natural hazard will remarkably increase in future with climate change. The future projection suggests that India will be more affected by increase in rainfall, the glacial meltdown and rising sea levels. This projection leads to increase in frequency of floods, cyclones and storm surges. It is impossible to predict the timing or intensity of the event but according to past disaster experience and statistic data, communities will be more vulnerable to flood, drought and cyclone with increasing death and economic damage. On the other hand there will possible increase in poverty with food scarcity and increase in diseases especially malaria which is very common in this part of region. Along with communities living near coastline, agriculture, forestry, fishery and construction sector will be at high risk and will affect economic growth of the country. There are some frequent natural hazards which Indian communities suffer social and economic losses every year.


Flood disasters are the largest Scenario of economic damages and losses of human lives in India. Almost 75% of the annual rainfall is received during June to September monsoon, making almost all the rivers carry heavy discharge during this period. India is highly flood prone. Of the total of 62 major rivers, eighteen are flood prone. Floods are mainly due to heavy rainfall in association with tropical lows, depressions and cyclones. On an average 60% of the total damages due to floods in a year are in the States of Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Crops in the States of Assam, Bihar, and West Bengal cover about 40% of the total area affected. In terms of the monetary value of crop loss, this is 90% of the total damage in these States. In Uttar Pradesh, crop loss is about 55% of the total damages incurred (R.K.Bhandari).


The most earthquake prone areas in India belong to the Himalayan belt in the northern region from Kashmir to Assam. In the east, the earthquake prone areas are Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and the Kutch region in the west. The peninsular shield of India was until recently considered calm and earthquake free zone but the devastating earthquake of Latur which had change the situation. Seismic activity is also noticed along Narmada, Son and Godavari rivers and sometimes over the Eastern and the Western Ghats. Various faults and lineaments that are known to be active and related with earthquake activity are central thrust and boundary fault along the Himalayas and Narmada - Son Lineament in the Peninsular India. Most of the Himalayan earthquakes tend to be shallow earthquakes. Earthquake induced grounds shaking ruptures faults, generating landslides, differential ground movements, liquefaction, tsunamis etc., causing staggering losses to human settlements, infrastructure and environment. (R.K.Bhandari)


68% is prone to drought, and of this 33 percent is constantly drought-prone, receiving rainfall of less than 750 mm per annum, while 35 percent receives rainfall between 750-1,125 mm per annum. The steady shrinking of the Himalayan Glacier ranges will drastically cut down water availability in downstream plains of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Luni. The west flowing rivers of Kutchh and Saurashtra occupying about one fourth of the area of Gujarat and 60 % of Rajasthan are likely to experience acute physical water scarcity. The river basins of Mahi, Pennar, Sabarmati and Tapi are also likely to experience constant water scarcities and shortages. Country experienced major drought period in1982, 1987, 2000 and 2002 but severe drought period this was experienced in 1987 and 2000, 30 million people were affected.

Mapping of India's Hazard Prone Area District

Name of District in India which are Substantial Hazard Prone Area



Cyclone (3)

Flood (4)

Drought (5)

Andhra Pradesh

Adilabad, Karim Nagar, Khammam, East Godavari,Guntur, Prakasam, West Godavari.

Krishna,Nellore, Srikakulam, Vishkapatnam, Vizianagram,East Godavari,Guntur, Prakasam, West Godavari.

Krishna,Nellore, Srikakulam,Vishkapatnam, Vizianagram, East Godavari,Guntur,Prakasam, West Godavari.

Anantpur, Chittoor, Cuddapah,Hyderabad, Karnool, Mehboobnagar, Nalgonda, Prakasam


All 22 districts listed in Table

No cyclone, but speed can be 50 m/s in districts of Table causing local damage except Dhubri

All 22 districts listed in Table



All 25 districts listed in Table


All 25 districts listed in Table

Munger, Nawadah, Rohtas, Bhojpur, Aurangabad, Gaya







North and South Goa


North and South Goa



Banaskantha, Danthe GS, Gandhinagar, Kheda, Mahesana, Panchmahals, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Bharuch, Surat,Valsad, Amreli, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Janagad, Kachchh.

Ahmedabad, Bharuch, Surat, Valsad , Amreli, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Janagad, Kachchh.

Banaskantha, Danthe GS, Gandhinagar, Kheda, Mahesana, Panchmahals, Vadodara ,Ahmedabad, Bharuch, Surat, Valsad.

Ahmadabad, Amrely, Banaskantha, Bhavnagar, Bharuch, Jamnagar, Kheda, Kutch, Mehsana, Panchmahal, Rajkot, Surendranagar


All 8 districts listed in Table


All 8 districts listed in Table

Bhiwani, Gurgaon, Mahendranagar, Rohtak


Idduki, Kottayam, Palakad, Pathnamthitta,

Alappuzha, Ernakkulum, Kannur,Kasargode, Kollam,Kozhikode, Malappuram, Thiruvananthapuram, Trissur.

Alappuzha, Ernakkulum, Kannur, Kasargode, Kollam,Kozhikode, Malappuram, Thiruvananthapuram, Trissur

Alappuzha, Ernakkulum, Kannur, Kasargode, Kollam,Kozhikode, Malappuram, Thiruvananthapuram, Trissur , Idduki, Kottayam, Palakad, Pathnamthitta


Jammu and Kashmir




Doda, Udhampur










Bangalore, Belgaum, Bellary, Bijapur, Chitradurga, Chickmagalur,

Dharwad, Gulbarga, Hassan, Kolar, Mandya, Mysore, Raichur, Tumkur

Madhya- Pradesh




Betul, Datia, Dewas, Dhar, Jhabhua, Khandak, Shahdol, Shahjapur, Sidhi,



Bombay, Rayagad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg,Thane

Bombay, Rayagad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg,Thane


Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Beed, Nanded, Nashik, Osmanabad, Pune,

Parbhani, Sangli, Satara, Solapur


Baleshwar, Cuttack, Puri , Dhenkanal

Ganjam, Baleshwar, Cuttack, Puri, Dhenkanal

Ganjam Baleshwar, Cuttack, Puri

Phulbani, Kalahandi, Bolangir, Kendrapada


All 12 districts listed in Table

All 12 districts listed in Table







Ajmer, Banaswada, Barmer, Churu, Dungarpur, Jaisalmer, Jalore, Jhunjunu, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Pali, Udaipur

Tamil Nadu




Coimbatore, Dharmapuri, Madurai,

Ramanathapuram, Salem,

Tiruchirapali, Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari

Uttar Pradesh

All 50 districts listed in Table


All 50 districts listed in Table

Allahabad, Banda, Hamirpur, Jalan, Mirzapur, Varanasi

West Bengal

Bardhaman, Calcutta, Hugli, Howra, Mednipur, Nadia, North and South Parganas , Bankura,

Birbhum, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Kooch Bihar, Malda, Murchidabad, West Dinajpur

Bardhaman, Calcutta, Hugli, Howra, Mednipur, Nadia, North and South Parganas, Bankura

Bardhaman, Calcutta, Hugli, Howra, Mednipur, Nadia, North and South Parganas, Birbhum, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Kooch Bihar, Malda, Murchidabad, West Dinajpur

Bankura, Midnapore, Purulia

Source- Information gathered by “Drought: Assessment, Monitoring, Management and Resources Conservation.” By R. Nagarajan, Capital Publishing and Disaster Management in India-a New Awakening by R.K.Bhandari and assembled by the researcher


Table Hazard Prone Districts

(1) Assam

Barbeta, Bongaigaon, Cachar, Darrang, Dibrugarh, Dhemaji, Dhuburi, Golaghat, Gailaknadi, goalpara, Jorhat, Karbi Anglong, Kamrup, Karimganj, Kokrajhar, Lakhimpur, Morigaon, Nagaon, Nalbari Sibsagar, Sonitpur, Tinsukia.

(2) Bihar

Banka, Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Bhojpur, Darbhanga, Gopalganj, Jamui, Khagaria, Kishanganj, Madhepura, Madhubani, , Mazaffarpur, Munger, Nalanda, Nawada, Pashchim Cahmparan, Patna, Purba Chambaran, Purnia, Samstipur, Saran, Saharsa, Sitamarhi, Supaul, Vishali.

(3) Haryana

Ambala, Bhiwani, Faridabad, Fandabad, Gurgaon, Hissar, Jind, Kurukshetra.

(4) Punjab

Amritsar, Bathinda, Faridkot, Firozpur, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Japurthala, Ludhiyana, Patiala, Rup Nagar, Sangrur.

(5) Uttar Pradesh

Agra, Aligarh, Allahabad, Azamgarh, Bahraich, Ballis, Barabanki, Bareilly, Basti, Bijnor, Budaun, Bulandshahr, Deoria, Etach, Etawah, Faizabad, Farrukhabad, FAtehpur, Firozabad, Ghaziabad, Ghazipur, Gonda, Gorakhpur, Hardoi, Haridwar, Jaunpur, Kanpur (Dejat), Kanpur (Nagar), Kheri, Lucknow, Maharajganj, Mainpuri, Mathura, Mau, Meerut, Mirzapur, Mordabad, Muzaffarnagar, Nainital, Pilibhit, Partapgarh, Raebareli, Rampur, Saharanpur, Shahjahanpur, Siddharth Nagar, Sitapur, Sultanpur, Unnao, Varanasi.


Bangladesh's geographical location and land characteristics make it one of most hazard-prone countries in the world to floods and cyclones. The frequent range of natural hazard which it faces throughout its history includes tropical cyclones with associated storm-surges, floods, tornadoes and river bank erosion. Other major hazard risks to the country include earthquake, Tsunami, high arsenic contents in ground water, salinity and water logging etc. Flooding has been the most frequent type of disaster striking Bangladesh, and the country remains one of the worst sufferers of cyclonic casualties in the world.


Floods are of different types in Bangladesh with complex phenomenon. There are three main type of damaging floods which mainly strike Bangladesh: flash flood, river flood and rain flood.

Flash floods result from very heavy rainfall occurring over neighbouring hill or terrace areas. Water-levels in rivers and on the land rise rapidly, flow rapidly and usually recede rapidly, within a few hours or days. Such floods are more frequent in April-May and October-November. At an average time interval of about 3 to 4 years river floods extend beyond the active floodplains and damage crops on parts of the adjoining meander floodplains. The severe floods, which attracted international attention, were in 1974, 1977, 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1998 but August-September, 1988, Bangladesh experienced an unprecedented flood causing loss of 1621 human lives and again during July-September, 1998 the country experienced another flood which is the worst in the living memory both in respect of its long duration and water level. Almost two-third area of the country was inundated causing widespread damage to the economy of the country ever before.

Such floods particularly affect Chittagong coastal plain and St Martian's Coral island. In the pre-monsoon season, they may also affect areas alongside rivers passing through the adjoining Old Brahmaputra, Old Meghna Estuarin, Eastern Surma-Kusiyara flood plains and Sylhet basin. Flash flood occasionally affects northern Old Himalayan Piedmont Plains and pass down the Atrai River into the Lower Atrai Basin. There, they can be too much run-off from the adjoining in level and high Barind zone which occurred in 1987. At longer intervals perhaps 25-50 years, flash floods flow over almost the whole landscape in Old Himalayan Piedmont Plain and Tista Meander Floodplain. Especially in Northern & Eastern Piedmont and Chittagong Costal Plains, flash floods often bring in large amounts of sediments which are spread irregularly over the land and within river channels, raising river-beds. (Brammer and Khan, 1991)

River floods result mainly from heavy rainfall and snow-melt in the upper catchment areas of the Ganges, Tista, Brahmaputra and eastern rivers lying outside Bangladesh. This overflows flood plains of Tista Meander, Young Brahmaputra & Jamuna, High & low Ganga Rivers, north-eastern part of Ganga and Eastern parts of Karatoya-Bangali . In years with exceptionally high floods, such as in 1988, river floods may extend more widely over Young Brahamaput & Jamuna in particular, as well as over parts of Low Ganga River. More than 90 percent of the flow in Bangladesh's main rivers originates outside the country. However, heavy rainfall occurring within Bangladesh at the same time can aggravate such floods. River floods are liable to occur mainly between June and September.

Rainwater floods result from the ponding of rainwater on the land when high river levels block drainage outlets. They are most extensive when heavy monsoon rainfall over Bangladesh coincides with abnormally high water levels in the main rivers entering the country from India. Rainwater floods mainly affect floodplain of Tista Meander, Karatoya-Bangali , Young Brahamaputra & Jamuna, Lower Purnabhaba, Old Brahamputra, Old Meghna Estuarine, Basin of Lower Atrai, River of Low and

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