Natural Disasters In South Asia
Natural Disasters In South Asian Realm, focusing on Hydrological Disasters
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Natural Disasters In South Asia
Natural disasters are naturally occurring events, or
extreme forces of nature, that cause death or
destruction of people and or their property.
Natural disasters are changes which are so great
they may cause damage to the shape of the land or
to the lives of people and other living things.
Great changes happen deep inside the Earth and on
its surface. The changes on the outer part of the
Earth happen because of different kinds of weather
Natural Hazards are events that are
part of the dynamic processes of the
Earth. However, when natural hazards
adversely affect people then they
become natural disasters.
South Asia is exposed to a variety of hazards
due to the geo-climatic characteristics of the
region. These hazards range from avalanches
and earthquakes to glacial lake outburst floods
in the Himalayas in the North, droughts and
floods in the Plains, and cyclones that
originate in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian
1. Hazard exposure is primarily due to two
geographic features of the region, the
Himalayan mountain belt and the coastal waters
of the Indian Ocean, including the Bay of
Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
2. The Himalayan ecosystem sustains almost
1.5billion people, many of whom live in the
floodplains of its main rivers (e.g., the
Brahmaputra, Ganges, Indus, and Kosi).
• These rivers are difficult to manage and cause
significant flooding on a regular basis
3. The monsoon weather pattern, formed in the
northern part of the region, traps humidity and
causes intense rainfall that often leads to
4. Major fault lines run through the
mountainous regions as pressure builds from
the Indian plate pushing north, resulting in large-
scale seismic events.
5. Finally, the warm waters of the Indian Ocean
generate high intensity cyclones that impact
nearly all coastal areas in the region
The monsoon carries more than 70 percent
of South Asia’s annual precipitation in a brief
A good monsoon brings strong harvests and
financial security, but a poorly timed monsoon,
can result inhuman suffering and economic
loss due to either flooding or drought
South Asia is the most disaster prone regions of the
world. Often refer to as the Hazard Belt.
Forest fire or Bushfire
Two thirds of the natural disasters in South
Asia are related to Hydrology.
Various studies indicate that climate change
would further increase the frequency, severity
and unpredictability of the natural disasters
especially floods in entire South Asian Region.
Six out of seven countries of South Asia are prone
to floods due to a variety of factors, both natural
and manmade every year.
Last decade, some of the south Asian countries
such as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal
and Sri Lanka affected by catastrophic floods.
Due to floods thousands of people lost their lives
and properties in this region every year
Flooding is the most frequently occurring
disaster in SAR.
South Asia has a long history of floods and
for many of the countries in South Asia,
combating floods is an annual feature.
Except for Bhutan and Maldives, all countries
in the region are subject to considerable and
partly extreme flood risk.
27 million per
year, and cause
an average of
billion in annual
Map showing flood affected
areas in Pakistan during the
Of all the hazards, floods have the most
disastrous impacts on the lives of people in
Pakistan as they not only cause loss to human
lives and property but also have substantial
negative effect on the economy by damaging
agriculture and standing crops. Floods also have
dire effects on public health and the
environment, particularly water quality.
“I have witnessed many natural disasters around the world,
but nothing like this”
Said Ban Ki moon, UN Secretary General after the devastating
floods in Pakistan, 2010
The 2010 Pakistan floods start in July 2010 following heavy
monsoon rains in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab
and Baluchistan regions of Pakistan and affected the Indus
River basin. Approximately one-fifth of Pakistan's total land
area was underwater. According to Pakistani government data
the floods directly affected about 20 million people, mostly by
destruction of property, livelihood and infrastructure, with a
death toll of closer to 2,000 people
Among the recurrent floods of 2010, 2011 and
2012. Floods of 2010 remained the most
devastating of its kind in the 63 year’s history of
the country, where some 1,985 people lost
their lives. The loss to public and private
property and infrastructure amounted to more
than 10 billion US Dollars.
in 2011, in roughly the same geographic
areas, floods affected more than five million
Once again in 2012, floods affected five million
Normally, a flood affecting five million people
would be seen as a mega-disaster (after all, the
2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami affected about two
But in the case of Pakistan, the 2012 floods did
not generate the same international attention as
in the previous two years; perhaps recurring
disasters the third time around are simply not
deemed to be as news-worthy. Media attention
is often linked to the mobilization of international
Approximately 460,000 homes were destroyed
and 265,000 people were displaced, taking
shelter in makeshift relief camps in Baluchistan,
Punjab and Sindh provinces.
Food supplies were also severely impacted as
over 1.12 million acres of crops were affected
and over 9,600 cattle died.
Heavy monsoon rains in August 2013 triggered
flash floods and caused widespread losses and
damage across Pakistan. Nearly 1.5 million
people, almost 80,000 houses, and 1.5 million
acres of crops were affected. 234 people were
killed. More than 4,100 people were housed in
408 relief camps.
Pakistan, which has suffered from
monsoon floods for the last three years,
has been criticized for not doing more to
mitigate against the dangers posed by
seasonal rains washing away homes
Our government is least bothered about
the monsoon season they only get up
from their sleep when the country is
About 30 million people are affected annually.
Floods in the Indo–Gangetic–Brahmaputra
plains are an annual feature.
On an average, a few hundred lives are lost,
millions are rendered homeless and several
hectares of crops are damaged every year.
Nearly 75% of the total rainfall occurs over a
short monsoon season (June – September).
40 million hectares, or 12% of Indian land, is
considered prone to floods.
Assam, Bihar, Orissa , Uttar Pradesh and
West Bengal are 5 states that face annual
India suffered multiple rounds of floods in
2012. Heavy monsoon rainfall caused the
Brahmaputra River and its tributaries to flood the
northeastern state of Assam twice in 2012, once
in late June and again in September.
The first round of floods affected more than 2.3
million people in over 4,000 villages across the
state of Assam and was labeled the worst since
Flood waters breached 43 levees, affecting some
areas that are not traditionally susceptible to
Towards the end of the monsoon season, in
September, rainfall caused floods and landslides
in Assam and Sikkim, killing 33 and displacing
more than a million people across northeast
In August, floods in northwestern India also killed
36 people as Rajasthan received its heaviest
rainfall in over 30 years.
Further to the north, in Uttarkhand, 34 people
were killed and more than 2,000 people took
shelter in relief camps
Bangladesh is one of the countries with a
unique settings for flooding. Most part of the
country is low lying and 80% of the
landmass is flood plain thereby leaving the
country highly vulnerable to the threat of
Historical and recent data shows that during
past 50 years at least 7 major floods have
taken place in Bangladesh, some the
worst ones have occurred during the years
1987, 1988, 1998, 2004 and 2007.
The most recent event is recorded in June
2012 In which some five million people were
affected by floods and landslides beginning
on 23 June.
The city of Chittagong in eastern Bangladesh
received 15.7 inches (40 centimeters) of
monsoon rainfall within a single twelve hour
period on 26 June 2012, causing flash floods
and landslides around the city and in nearby
Most deaths were caused by landslides and
The monsoons displaced 600,000 people and
many were still in temporary shelters several
months after the flood waters receded.
Even when monsoon floods come as
expected every year, their impact on human
communities is severe.
Floods are more of common occurrence
in Sri Lanka than the other natural
There are 103 river basins of which
about 10 rivers are considered as major.
Among these major rivers Kelani, Gin,
Kalu, Nilwala and Mahaweli are
vulnerable to floods.
The damages usually are loss of human
life, livestock, physical damages such as
to buildings, crops, infrastructures etc.
Sometimes landslides can be triggered
on account of flooding.
In addition to direct effect, there are
various indirect impact such as
epidemics, scarcity of food supply, water
supply, heavy impact on local economy,
social disruptions etc.
Indirect impacts also include the
degradation of agricultural land which
subsequently diminishes agricultural
productivity, impacting rural
development and income opportunities.
This is particularly important in SAR
where dependence on agricultural
production for livelihoods remains high.
Avalanches are river like speedy flow of snow or
ice descending from the mountain tops.
Avalanches are very damaging and cause huge
loss to life and property
Beside killing people, avalanches also damage
the roads and others properties and settlements
falling in its way
On an average around 30 people are killed every
year due to this disaster in various zones of the
Avalanches are common in Himalayan region
above 3500m elevation.
North facing slope have avalanches in winter
and south facing slopes during spring.
Slopes covered with grass more prone to this
Avalanches are very frequent on slopes of 30-
45°.Convex slopes more prone to this disaster.
On the morning of April 7,
2012, an avalanche buried
the Gayari military base
located near Pakistan’s
border with India in
Kashmir under 21 meters
The military eventually
declared 129 soldiers and
eleven civilian personnel
To date, more soldiers in
the mountainous border
region have died from
weather conditions than in
combat. FAIZA REHMAN
The high mountainous region
having the rugged and steep
slopes topographically is
susceptible to avalanche.
A number of cases of avalanche
with destructive nature have been
reported in Nepal
The most recent occurred on the
morning of 18th April 2014 when
the avalanche smashed in an area
nicknamed the "popcorn field“, at
an altitude of about 5,800 meters
(19,000 feet), resulting 13 dead
Cold waves are recurrent phenomenon
in North India and Pakistan.
Hundreds if not thousands of people die
of cold and related diseases every year,
most of them from poor urban areas in
northern parts of the country.
Cyclone Risk model
South Asian countries are seriously
vulnerable to different types of natural
disasters and have been seriously
experiencing one or another kind of natural
Floods of longer duration and frequent
occurrence have caused great losses to the
life and property in Pakistan, Bangladesh,
India and Nepal.
Earthquakes of greater magnitudes (7+)
have ravaged India and Pakistan, several
times in the last decades. Devastating
Tsunamis, triggered, from the Indian Ocean
bed have destroyed some coastal areas
of India and Sri Lanka.
Not only these, Cyclones, Tornadoes,
landslides and huge forest-fires are very
common and devastating natural hazards
of this region
In the recent years the frequency, magnitude
and severity of occurrence of these natural
disasters are increasing alarmingly.
Particularly the disasters like Cyclones, storms,
floods, and draughts etc. are in the increase.
Scientists are of the opinion that these are the
fallout of the looming global climatic change in
The growth and high population density in SAR’s
megacities will continue to make them vulnerable to
disasters if development is not properly managed.
With a projected population of 100 million
inhabitants in 2015, Mumbai, Delhi, Dhaka, Kolkata
and Karachi, the five megacities associated with
increasingly high population densities and
concentrated high economic growth, are some of
the fastest growing megacities in the world.
The largely unplanned growth of cities in the
region has had negative effects on the quality
of urban services and on the environment,
leading to high vulnerability
Without a strong culture of safety and proper
enforcement mechanisms to ensure resilient
construction of buildings, these structures are
often not strong enough to withstand hazard
Poor land use planning and ill-enforced building
codes result in structures that are highly
vulnerable to hazard events
Other infrastructure, including water, transport,
and power are often not built with hazard
exposure in mind. Due to the added marginal
cost of building resilient structures, this is often
overlooked by contractors, which creates
significant vulnerability in the capital stock
Policies and legislation for managing natural
disasters are often insufficiently enforced in
This is coupled with a highly vulnerable
population that is neither well aware of the
risks it faces, nor the response it should have
in the case of a natural disaster.