1 in 4 of world’s population at risk from severe flooding

Nearly a quarter of the world’s population is exposed to significant flood risks, according to new research published Tuesday, which warns that people in poorer countries are more vulnerable.

Floods from heavy rains and storm surges affect millions of people each year and cause billions of dollars in damage to homes, infrastructure and economies. And the risks increase as climate change causes more extreme rainfall and sea-level rise, as exposed populations increase.

The new study, published in the journal Nature Communications, analyzed global data on flood risks from the sea, rivers and rainfall, as well as population distribution and poverty estimates from the World Bank.

It found that about 1.81 billion people, or 23 per cent of people on the planet, are directly exposed to floods greater than 15 centimetres (six inches) in 1-in-100-year floods.

The study looked at global data on flood hazards from oceans, rivers and rainfall, as well as population distribution and World Bank poverty estimates. Which showed that about 1.81 billion people, or 23 per cent of the people living on Earth, are in direct contact with more than 15 centimetres of floods that occur once every 100 years.

The study said this would pose a major threat from a life and livelihood perspective, especially for the vulnerable population. Overall, around 90 per cent of people affected by floods live in low- or middle-income countries.

The study also concluded that the number of people living in poverty and at risk of severe flooding is much higher than previously thought.

The researchers found that, globally, about $9.8 trillion in economic activity, about 12 per cent of global GDP in 2020, is in areas prone to severe flooding.

The study by June Rentsler and colleagues at the World Bank, based on the poverty level of the population exposed to flooding, shows that low-income countries are proportionally at risk of flooding, while long-term countries are at risk of flooding. they are more vulnerable to lasting destructive effects.

The study estimated that the majority (1.24 billion) of those exposed to flooding are in South and East Asia, including China and India, which account for more than a third of the global total.

Approximately 78 million people living on an income of less than $5.50 a day were found to be at risk of once-in-a-hundred-year floods.

According to the World Weather Attribution, a network of scientists that tracks the impacts of climate change, global warming has made extreme rainfall more common and intense in most parts of the world.

This is likely to have made flooding more severe in these areas, although scientists stress that other human factors also play a role, such as decisions about where houses and infrastructure are built.

This month, record flooding in southern China displaced more than half a million people. In Bangladesh, the Red Cross said Tuesday that seven million people are still “desperately” in need of shelter and help after some of the heaviest rains in a century swelled rivers to record levels and flooded rural villages.

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