Look at disasters from a broader perspective, urges new report

It analyses past trends and says India has to be prepared for catastrophes even if they are not defined as natural disasters

By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Thursday 04 April 2019
The Kerala floods of 2018. Photo: Rejimon Kuttappan
The Kerala floods of 2018. Photo: Rejimon Kuttappan The Kerala floods of 2018. Photo: Rejimon Kuttappan

Stakeholders must look at natural disasters in a completely new way, so that India can be prepared to meet the challenges of the future says 'Face of Disasters 2019’ released by non-profit SEEDS on April 3.

It delves into the changing face of disaster risks and the need to look at them from a broader perspective, with roots in resource management practices.

It notes "In 2018, India witnessed nearly every type of natural hazard, except a major earthquake and related events”. These natural hazards included floods, droughts, heat and cold waves, lightning strikes, cyclones and even hailstorms.

“Yet”, says the report, “Only a few of these attracted national attention. This poses some critical questions and issues and also points to risks that lie ahead. At the core is the idea that disasters cannot be seen in isolation anymore.”

The report lists eight key areas that must be considered in tackling the natural disasters of tomorrow:

  • First, we have to accept the changing nature of water. There is a significant drought condition even before the onset of summers. Extreme floods in unexpected locations during the monsoons are fast becoming a new normal.
  • We have to accept that no disaster is ‘natural’. Risks which later transform into huge disasters ‘first slip through since they do not meet the criteria of a natural disaster’.
  • The disasters that go unseen leave those affected at even greater risk.
  • Coastal erosion is affecting livelihoods and could become a full-blown problem in the future.
  • Long-term and uncaptured disaster impacts have life-changing consequences for affected communities.
  • The risk of natural disasters is rapidly spreading to urban areas and in the future, such disasters would affect everyone alike.
  • The melting of the ‘Third Pole’ — the Himalayas, will have a serious impact on India
  • Is India prepared to meet the challenges of mega earthquakes in the future?

The report also says “there is a need to look at disaster vulnerabilities that lie under the radar, waiting to strike”. It says access to rapidly depleting water sources and heat stress are two of the most prominent instances of this.

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