Risk of disasters in Asia has increased fivefold: WMO
Intentionally or unintentionally, a specialized agency of the United Nations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), missed mentioning Pakistan not once but several times in its latest publication titled WMO Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes (1970-2019).
WMO is known as the UN agency on climate change. Its report, released this week, warns that the risk of disasters in Asia has increased five folds.
In 2014, the WMO published the first edition of the WMO Atlas, which provided an analysis of the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT).
In the latest version of the report, the first disaster mentioned in its Asia section is the Bhola Cyclone that hit the then East Pakistan (which became Bangladesh after Dec 16, 1971) in 1970. But instead of mentioning East Pakistan, it cited that the disaster-hit Bangladesh, which had not even been founded or declared yet.
The second time, the Atlas fails to mention the superflood that hit Pakistan in 2010.
At that time, UN’s Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes had termed the extent of floods unprecedented and said that the scale of destruction from monsoon flooding in July and August 2010 surpassed the devastation caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the 2005 Pakistan earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake combined.
According to a research article”Economic Impacts of Floods in Pakistan” by Robert Looney of Naval Postgraduate School, the 2010 floods destroyed standing crops sown over 3.3 million hectares, submerged 400 miles of railways and 200 health facilities and caused a two percentage point reduction in (the country’s) GDP growth that year.”
However, the latest WMO atlas fails to mention this colossal disaster.
The WMO report maintains that “over the last 50 years, 50 per cent of all recorded disasters, 45 per cent of related deaths and 74 per cent of related economic losses were due to weather, climate and water hazards”.
The impact of disasters affected “a million lives and $1.2 trillion … lost in Asia over the 50 years due to weather, climate and water extremes”.
“Disasters were reported more frequently by decade, up from one disaster on average every fifteen days to one every three days over the 50 years. One hundred and four disasters were recorded per year on average over the last two decades,” WMO’s Atlas states.
Analysis by the United Nations country classification shows that the vast majority of recorded disasters (89%), related deaths (99 per cent) and economic losses (85 per cent) occurred in countries with developing economies.