Estimated Mean Annual Water-Related Damages ($ per person)
Over the past 20 years, countries have incurred damages broadly proportional to the estimated national water-related disaster resilience index (Figure 20). Countries such as Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga, ea...
ch assessed with low resilience (< 1.0), have experienced comparatively high levels of damage. Conversely, Brunei Darussalam and Kiribati, also classified with low resilience (< 1.0), and Singapore, estimated to be resilient (> 2.0), have experienced very low levels of losses from water-related disasters.
However, the majority of countries are only in the early stages of incorporating disaster risk reduction into their sector development planning process. Progress can be seen in stronger institutional systems and improved legislation for disaster preparedness and response. Good foundations are being laid for disaster risk reduction in many countries. Now, investments must be made to build effective infrastructure and organizations to reduce the risks faced by people in exposed communities.
-----Pulling the Policy Levers-----
Water-related disaster risk reduction and management, including more community-based approaches and climate change adaptation measures, must be more deeply incorporated into development of national policies, investment planning, and annual budget allocation processes (Table 11). These measures will reduce economic and social losses more effectively than confining disaster management as an isolated responsibility within a single ministry. Better coordination of efforts to mitigate disasters and damages can be built into many projects and development activities, including roads, water supply, and bridges, and irrigation, education, and health investments. Screening proposed infrastructure investments for climate risks will enable not only mitigation of disasters but also improved adaptation to the expected impacts of climate change.
-----What Is at Stake----
Asia is the world’s most populous continent, home to more than 60% of the world’s 7.06 billion people.60 More than 634 million people (one-tenth of the global population) live in coastal areas that lie 10 meters or less above sea level. Of the total global urban population, 13% lives in low
elevation coastal zones; of these, about 75% reside in Asia. In 21 nations, more than half of the population lives in such coastal zones, and 16 of these countries are small island states. More than 40% of the land area of Bangladesh, a highly populated country, lies below 10 meters above sea level. In addition to the hydrometeorological extremes that can cause frequent droughts and floods, glacial retreat in the Himalayas is increasing the risk of potentially disastrous glacial lake outburst floods. The demographic and geographic vulnerability of Asia and the Pacific to water-related disasters highlights the urgent need to create capacity for disaster risk reduction.
Economic development and resilience are correlated. As long as a country’s level of resilience remains low, the probability of sustainable economic and social development also remains low. Decades of economic development can be undone by a single disaster.
Investment in disaster risk management reduces a community’s risk of loss of critical infrastructure. It reduces reconstruction costs and loss of development opportunities, which lowers the overall cost of reducing poverty and helps ensure that development is sustainable.
---- Water related disaster resilience index
Lao PDR = Lao People’s Democratic Republic, PRC = People’s Republic of China.
------- Note: Bubble size is proportional to Mean annual water related hazard losses per capita ($ per person).