Uncovering India’s Natural Disasters
With the number of natural disasters increasing every year, India fears that the situation will escalate to a point of no return. By the year 2030, no less than eight years from now, experts predict that the world will experience 560 natural disasters annually, which equates to about three natural disasters every two days. According to the National Herald, 32% of India’s population lives below the national poverty line. India’s natural disasters can have extreme economic repercussions, a burden that many impoverished Indians simply cannot shoulder.
Variations of Natural Disasters
India’s natural disasters vary and are not limited to just one type of disaster. Experts predict that droughts will increase more than 30% from the year 2001 leading to 2030 but may differ year on year. An increase in “extreme temperature events” is also a fear Indians face as experts also expect the frequency of these events to triple by the year 2030.
These risks lead to developmental, financial and policy decisions that aggravate the living conditions of already vulnerable people and further their existing dangers. This is without accounting for COVID-19, which also heightens unemployment and inequality. Furthermore, the intensity and impacts of natural disasters have been more extreme “in the last five years than in the previous five.”
Urbanization of Coastal Cities
Rapid urbanization also plays a factor as lots of large cities are concentrated in coastal areas, making them more vulnerable to the impacts of rising sea levels. In fact, on a world scale, “the global mean sea level is rising at a rate of around 3.7 millimeters per year, according to estimates made between 2006 and 2018.” Many of India’s coastal cities are at risk of becoming entirely submerged underwater by 2100. The Indian cities of Visakhapatnam, Chennai, Kochi and Mumbai “could be nearly three feet underwater” by 2100.
Disproportionate Impacts on the Impoverished
The impacts of natural disasters disproportionately affect impoverished people as people in poverty are more inclined to reside in substandard housing in precarious locations in the country. The impacts of natural disasters exacerbate poverty further as these individuals, in an attempt to survive, resort to reducing expenditure with regard to essentials such as “food, health and education,” which harms their well-being in the long term.
These families also desperately resort to pushing their children into child labor in order to add to the household income. These events also lead to a surge in prices of essentials, making these items unaffordable for the impoverished. For example, EUobserver writes that “floods can destroy harvests, affecting the regional supply of grain, maize or other crops, therefore driving up food prices.”
Over the past 30 years, the economic losses stemming from natural disasters rose more than twofold since the 1990s when the losses averaged $70 billion annually. By 2020, the economic losses averaged about $170 billion annually, although insurance covers 40% of these losses. However, insurance is not an option for some risks such as rising sea levels.
UNICEF Takes Preventative Measures
Although India’s natural disasters cause the country’s future to appear bleak, there is a brighter outlook for one of the “world’s most disaster-prone countries.” UNICEF is establishing disaster-risk reduction as a priority in its 2018-2022 Country Programme for India. This will involve incorporating “risk reduction strategies into the education, health, nutrition and water and sanitation sectors” of the nation to establish resiliency and enhance recovery.
UNICEF’s risk analysis will prioritize the well-being of the nation’s children, taking into account ” the impact of natural and man-made hazards and conflict on children’s well-being and their communities.” UNICEF will also prioritize the “design of comprehensive school safety [programs]” to mitigate impacts on children should disaster strike.
India’s natural disasters bring consequences that highlight the importance of prioritizing solutions for disaster risk reduction. The above actions play a significant role in safeguarding the well-being of India’s citizens.
– Christina Papas