Climate Change

Five African countries among top 10 affected by extreme weather in 2019: Germanwatch

India incurred the maximum losses due to extreme weather in 2019 

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Monday 25 January 2021
The devastation caused by Cyclone Idai in the Chimanimani mountains on the border between Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Five African countries were among the global top 10 to suffer extreme weather in 2019, the Climate Risk Index 2021, released by environmental think tank Germanwatch said January 25, 2021.

The index also ranked India as the country that suffered the second-highest monetary loss due to climate change in 2019 after Japan. The index was released ahead of the climate adaption summit that began virtually January 25 and is hosted by the Netherlands.

It also showed that eight out of the ten countries most affected by extreme weather events in 2019 belong to the category of low to lower-middle income. Five of them fall into the category of Least Developed Countries.

Africa, India on top

Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Sudan and Niger were the five African countries among the ten most-affected due to extreme weather in 2019 according to the index. Mozambique and Zimbabwe were ranked first and second. Malawi was ranked fifth, South Sudan eighth and Niger ninth.

Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi made it to the list primarily due to Cyclone Idai. The deadliest and costliest tropical cyclone in the south-west Indian Ocean, Idai was labelled as “one of the worst weather-related catastrophes in the history of Africa” by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

It affected three million people and claimed over 1,000 lives, caused economic losses amounting to Rs 16,500 crore.

In 2019, most lives lost due to climate change were in India, which also suffered the second-highest monetary loss. India was the seventh-most affected country on the index.

In 2019, the southwest monsoon continued for a month longer than usual. The surplus of rain caused major hardship, the report said. Some 2,267 Indians died due to the extreme weather and the country lost $68,812.

With eight tropical cyclones, the year 2019 was one of the most active Northern Indian Ocean cyclone seasons on record. Six of the eight cyclones intensified to become “very severe”, the report said.

Poverty’s curse

The long-term risk index mapped in the report for the last two decades also showed that low to lower-middle income countries had been the most affected.

In two decades (2000-2019), over 475,000 people lost their lives as a direct result of more than 11,000 extreme weather events globally and losses amounted to around $2.56 trillion (in purchasing power parities).

Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti were the most-affected countries during these two decades. They are followed by the Philippines, Mozambique and the Bahamas.

The countries most impacted by extreme weather events should consider the index as a warning sign that they are at risk of either frequent events or rare but extraordinary catastrophes, the report said.

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