66% of India’s population exposed to extreme flood events: Study

Context
According to a new study by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, has found that while 66% of individuals in India are exposed to extreme flood events, only 33% of the exposed individuals are covered by flood ‘Early warning systems (EWS)’.
  • Only 25% of India’s population has being covered by EWS.
  • Under India’s G20 presidency this year, a working group on disaster risk reduction (DRR) has been formed for the first time since 1999. Further, EWS remains one of the key priorities throughout India’s G20 presidency.
Highlights of the study:
  • In total, 14 out of 32 states that are exposed to floods, and 9 out of 17 states exposed to cyclones, are highly resilient owing to the availability, accessibility, and effectiveness of EWS and MHEWS.
  • Furthermore, states such as Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and West Bengal are at the forefront of building resilience by establishing cyclone EWS, however much is needed to be done.
  • The district-level analysis revealed that while 72 per cent of districts in India were exposed to extreme flood events, merely 25 per cent of these exposed districts had level flood forecasting stations.
  • Approximately 51 million people in India are exposed to extreme flood events in India, and most districts are exposed to more than one extreme event.
  • It also pointed out that the gap then remains in data collection and dissemination of early warnings.
What is an Early Warning System?
  • Early warning systems are a major component of disaster risk reduction.
  • They prevent loss of life, as well as reducing the economic impact of natural hazards.
  • Increasing the availability of multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information is one of seven global targets set by The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
UNESCO also promotes scientific exchange and collaborative efforts in order to establish effective early warning systems for different hazards such as tsunamis, landslides, volcanoes, earthquakes, floods and droughts.
Need for an Early Warning system (EWS):
  • Early warning systems have proven to be an effective way to adapt to climate change by providing a cost-effective and reliable way of protecting lives and livelihoods from natural hazards such as floods, heatwaves, storms, and tsunamis.
  • According to the Global Commission on Adaptation, giving just 24 hours’ notice of an impending hazardous event can reduce damage by 30 percent.
  • Investing just US 800 million dollars in such systems in developing countries would prevent losses of 3 billion dollars to 16 billion dollars annually.
  • With 95 percent of the world’s population having access to mobile broadband networks and nearly 75 percent owning a mobile phone, mobile networks have become powerful communication channels that can effectively target those in at-risk areas.
  • The Early Warnings for All initiative partners beyond UN with the Red Cross and Red Crescent movementcivil society, Big Tech companies, donor governments, development banks, and the insurance sector.
Key efforts:
  • The Cyclone Warning Division (CWD) at IMD, New Delhi also acts as a multilateral Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre for monitoring, predicting and issuing warning services on tropical cyclones developing over the north Indian Ocean (one of the six centres in the World) along with 13 countries in Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea region.
  • Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI):
  • CDRI is a global partnership of national governments, United Nations agencies and programmes, multilateral development banks and financing mechanisms, the private sector, and academic and research institutions.
  • It aims to increase the resilience of infrastructure systems to climate and disaster risks, thereby ensuring sustainable development.
  • It was launched in 2019, at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York.
  • It is the Government of India’s second major global initiative after the International Solar Alliance, and it demonstrates India’s leadership in climate change and disaster resilience issues.

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