A staggering 83 per cent of the natural hazard events which were recorded last year – 81 from across Asia – were flood and storm events which led to more than 5,000 fatalities, notes the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) of the report, State of the Climate in Asia 2022, by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The WMO scrutinises the extreme weather events of last year and how Climate Change impacted Asia through the year. Floods and droughts wrecked lives and destroyed livelihoods while socio-economic destruction appears imminent in the near future owing to melting glaciers and rising sea levels, it cautions. “Overall, natural hazard events directly impacted more than 50 million people and resulted in over US$ 36 billion in damages,” it points out.
Flood-related disasters caused economic losses which exceeded the average for the 2002-2021 period. At more than US $15 billion, Pakistan was affected the most, followed by China which accrued losses of more than US $ 5 billion. India came close at over US $4.2 billion. Floods caused the most economic losses, followed by droughts, which in China led to maximum damages of US $7.6 billion, a nearly 200 percent rise from the 2002-2021 average.
Considering these massive losses, the report observes that enhancing food system resilience is a high priority across Asia. The need to monitor past and current climate to provide forecasts on weather and climate timescales has been emphasised as effective early warning services for agriculture and food security.
The report also observes that, “During 2022, three tropical cyclones (with maximum sustained wind speeds of ≥ 34 knots) formed over the North Indian Ocean. All three systems formed over the Bay of Bengal. Among them, Severe Cyclonic Storm Mandous, which formed during the pre-monsoon season, crossed the north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coasts on December 9 as a cyclonic storm, claiming six lives.”
It concludes that “early warning systems provide more than a ten-fold return on investment, and a dependable multi-hazard early warning system (MHEWS) is the backbone of a comprehensive risk-management programme”.