Ground Report | New Delhi: Floods increased in 20 years; Flood-related disasters have increased 134% since 2000, compared to the previous two decades, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). As a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underlines, rising global temperatures are drastically affecting the water cycle, making floods and droughts more extreme and frequent.
Floods increased in 20 years
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and its partners have been working to help lessen the impact of flooding in countries around the world. “UNEP does not have a magic wand, but we work with partners to accelerate flood resilience, build capacity, promote sustainable development, and collect and analyze the most important data to inform policymaking,” says Lis Mullin Bernhardt, an expert in freshwater ecosystems from UNEP.
“We are building resilience by advancing Sustainable Development Goal 6 on water and providing countries with significant opportunities to advance their broader climate and development agendas effectively, consistently across sectors, and with longer-term viability” he added.
Floods destroy biodiversity, lives, livelihoods, infrastructure and other assets. It can also aggravate health hazards, such as cholera, as sewers overflow and fresh and polluted water mix. Standing flood water can encourage the breeding of malaria-carrying mosquitoes in some places.
The WMO report makes a strong case for investing in integrated water resources management, a comprehensive framework for managing water resources and balancing social and economic needs while protecting ecosystems, such as wetlands that mitigate flooding.
More accurate and reliable data are helping to pinpoint the risks. The flood and drought portal, UNEP-DHI (a UNEP center of expertise dedicated to improving the management, development and use of freshwater resources from local to global levels), aggregates and translates publicly available data from a range of sources It aims to make it accessible to water authorities in a way that they can use to support decisions at the local level. The portal harnesses the growing opportunities provided by satellite data and cloud solutions to improve preparedness, management and response to urban floods, basin floods, drought and coastal security.
Meanwhile, the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, which works to ensure new opportunities for the data revolution, are used to achieve the SDGs, with partners such as UNEP in Guinea, Senegal and Togo. Has worked to inform flood policy. It conducted a three-phase capacity-building exercise on using the flood and drought portal.
The training has helped Senegal improve data availability. “We learned how to detect and use data on deforestation, droughts and floods in Senegal, which is often not collected at the national level,” says Gora Mbengu of Senegal’s Department of Planning and Environmental Monitoring.
Adaptation saves lives and resources
UNEP’s Adaptation Gap Report 2021 highlights the critical need to enhance climate adaptation finance. Estimated adaptation costs in developing countries are five to ten times higher than current public adaptation finance flows, and the adaptation finance gap is widening.
“Ecosystem-based approaches, such as restoring vegetation cover to built up wetlands, dedicated retention areas and helping mitigate the effects of floods, are receiving more attention and funding, and UNEP’s work in the area of climate make up a core part of it,” Bernhardt says.
Within its mandate for SDG Goal 6.6, UNEP is working to protect wetlands, which absorb and release excess water more slowly, thus reducing the effects of flooding.
For example, in Comoros, UNEP and partners are helping people harvest and retain water by rehabilitating 3,500 hectares of watershed habitat. The project aims to plant 1.4 million trees over the course of four years in three islands of the country. For farmers living within rapidly drying and deteriorating watersheds, this ecological restoration will prevent their soils from drying out and being washed away. The project is also improving weather forecasting systems and climate knowledge to help people change with the climate.
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