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750 people in South Asia affected by climate hazards

Almost 750 million people in South Asia were affected by a combination of climate hazards in the decade after 2000, according to a new research report by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

Jun 8, 2017
Almost 750 million people in South Asia were affected by a combination of climate hazards in the decade after 2000, according to a new research report by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).
Launching the report at a policy dialogue workshop, Prof. Chandrashekhar, Minister of Disaster Management Department, Government of Bihar, said, “Bihar experiences heavy floods despite not receiving good rains. This is mostly due to water coming in from neighboring states and countries. On the other hand, we suffer twice, as people of Bihar do not receive enough water to meet their requirements during the dry season. India has no shortage of talent, but devotion and motivation is required to implement a successful initiative which benefits people. Satellite-based insurance is a historic initiative; our department will extend all support to this effort.”
The research report presents a detailed approach to mapping hazards and identifying risks for floods, droughts, extreme rainfall, extreme temperature and sea-level rise in South Asia. The study applies for the first time a consistent methodology across different climate-related hazards, includes assessment of the population affected along with agricultural losses and makes use of spatial data and customized tools.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Alok Kumar Mehta, Minister for Co-operative Department, Government of Bihar, added, “Awareness needs to be built about preventive actions not just at a policy level but also at an individual level. Enabling private participation and investing in technological innovation would help Bihar deal with weather disasters in a better fashion. Multiple agriculture insurance schemes lead to duplication. It needs integration and convergence, which satellite data and technology can perhaps help with. I offer full cooperation from my department to take forward this initiative.”
Jointly organized by the Government of Bihar, IWMI and ICAR Research Complex for Eastern Region (ICAR-RCER), the policy workshop also brought together representatives from state and central government agencies, NGOs,private insurance companies, panchayat, farmers and development partners. Ideas and expertise were exchanged on identifying climate adaptation solutions, using the latest technology to promote better resilience among small and marginal farmers and vulnerable communities.
 Climate variability poses a significate threat to populations across the world, with the poor and disadvantaged at the greatest risk. South Asia, and the Indo-Gangetic plain in particular, is at high risk from floods. According to the Government of India, the country’s economy is closely linked to its natural resource base, with millions of people dependent on climate-sensitive livelihood sectors, such as agriculture, water, and forestry. The state of Bihar is vulnerable to both floods and droughts. Being the most flood-prone state in the country, it has suffered an agricultural loss of almost 22 billion Rupees  (0.34 billion USD) in the past 12 years due to floods. 
 The team is working with the Department of Disaster Management, Bihar, and Ministry of Agriculture (New Delhi) to experiment with the IBFI product for the 2017 monsoon season.
“This project, apart from being the first such attempt on a large scale in the two countries – India and Bangladesh – is also a trendsetter for catastrophe insurance in natural disaster-prone developing countries. The setup and social network are further advanced in India and are in the final stage of implementation,” said Giriraj Amarnath, Lead Scientist and Senior Researcher at IWMI.
Another initiative, the South Asia Drought Monitoring System (SADMS), provides near real-time information on drought onset and progression to help decision makers respond. The SADMS tool combines satellite images of vegetation with data on weather, soil moisture levels and crop yields. It helps predict the severity of coming dry spells and their expected length. Participants discussed how SADMS could help in agriculture drought management and contingency planning by collaborating with Indian council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) institutes and other agencies.

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