Enviro Monday: Floods are increasing across the world

A recent report by the UN, “The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters”, reveals that in the last 20 years, 157 000 people have died as a result of floods. More than 2.3 billion people were affected by the floods. This amounts to 56 percent of those affected by weather-related disasters – considerably more than any other type of weather-related disaster.

There were more than 3 000 floods, which accounted for 47 percent of all weather-related and 43 percent of all natural disasters combined, which also includes geophysical hazards such as earthquakes and volcanoes.

The frequency and severity of floods are increasing

Flood disasters are affecting ever wider areas, while at the same time becoming more severe. Flooding has taken its toll on agriculture and food supplies, exacerbating malnutrition problems in poorer areas of the world.

Flood events are becoming more severe

The nature of disastrous floods has also changed in recent years, with flash floods, acute riverine and coastal flooding increasingly frequent.

Floods are increasing across the world

Floods strike in Asia and Africa more than other continents, but pose an increasing danger elsewhere.

United States of America – south eastern Texas

HOUSTON, TEXAS – Portions of the Interstate 10 in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Hurricane Harvey has left 7 000 homes destroyed and 35 000 people displaced. The death toll has climbed to 44 as emergency teams continue to carry out rescue operations.

It has weakened to a Tropical Depression and moved inland over Louisiana.

Several rivers in Texas are likely to remain above major flood stage including the Guadalupe, Brazos, Trinity, and Neches Rivers.

South Asia – India, Nepal, Bangladesh

Oxfam said 1 200 people have died and 43 million people have been hit by the monsoon rains and heavy flooding in the South Asian nations of Bangladesh, India, and Nepal. Families have lost their homes and crops, and the number of casualties is likely to increase. Oxfam is providing over 186,000 flood-hit people with clean drinking water, food supplies, emergency shelter, hygiene kits, and other essentials.

Oxfam’s Bangladesh staff reported two-thirds of the country was under water and in some areas the flooding was the worst since 1988, creating an urgent demand for humanitarian supplies.

Widescale flooding in an arc stretching across the Himalayan foothills caused landslides and washed away tens of thousands of homes and vast swathes of farmland.

Unicef says 16 million children have been affected by the floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Nigeria – Benue

Thousands of people have been displaced by flooding in the state of Benue. It is thought that the Benue river overflowed after several days of heavy rain, causing some of the worst flooding seen in the state since 2012.

More than 100,000 people have been displaced and about 4 000 homes have been damaged. No fatalities have been reported.

Sierra Leone

The death toll from devastating floods and mudslides in Sierra Leona is more than 400 with hundreds still missing.

Pakistan

Disaster authorities in Pakistan report that 20 people have died as a result of recent flooding and heavy rain in Sindh and Punjab provinces.

South America

In South America, 560 000 people were affected by floods on average each year between 1995 and 2004. By the following decade (2005-2014) that number had risen to 2.2 million people, nearly a four-fold increase. In the first eight months of 2015, another 820,000 people were affected by floods in the region.

This trend has continued into late 2015 where overflowing rivers forced over 100,000 from their homes in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay.

Flood losses in Europe will increase fivefold by 2050

There were more than 3 500 flood events in Europe between 1980 and 2010 in 37 countries.

The highest number of floods (321) was reported for 2010, when 27 countries were affected. This number is associated with the ‘Central European floods’, which occurred across several Central European countries during May and June 2010.

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