Sunday, November 24, 2013

Disaster Response: Is all well with global civil society networks?

Dear Friends/Co-sailors,


For the “today's pick” section in my blog, I paste below an article that lists out ten countries where climate change kills the most people.  India stands at number five in this list that has been prepared by siliconindia website based on an India TV report. 

I am not sure about the authenticity of the ranking as there seem to be many gaps in the information.  Nevertheless, the information is important to be shared.

This is also important because governments as well as civil society organisations, including those who are at forefront of advocacy in the global climate change related negotiations, get often swayed by the ‘death’ figures in disasters.

Interestingly, this website does not feature Philippines among the top ten countries where ‘climate change kills most people’.  But, the Yolanda typhoon that affected the country just at the time the CoP 19 was to begin, remained in centre of discussion – both by government and civil society - during the Warsaw negotiations.

Ironically, the news of PHAILIN that affected the Bay of Bengal just about a month ago, subsided. PHAILIN did no less devastation.  Our memories are too short, this confirmed.  It also proved that civil society has started to think in the same line as governments.  Attention goes to a disaster where more people are killed?

Or is it simply a knee jerk response as an ‘advocacy strategy’?  If I believe this then one would have expected ‘calls of support’, ‘calls of solidarity’ etc. for both the recent disasters.  However, experience has proven otherwise.

At least my own experience being in some global networks gives me a different learning.  While a lot of efforts seem to have happened by the leadership of these networks to raise support and solidarity for Yoganda victims, I have not seen even one for PHAILIN victims.  Well, there have been mails in solidarity, but not any effort by such groups to work for victims of other disasters than those of the recent one.

Even in lobbying with International Financial Institutions(IFIs) or Multilateral Development Banks(MDBs) against conditions of loans for reconstruction, they chose to talk about Yoganda alone!

I may be wrong.  I sincerely want to be.  However, these are points to be reflected upon by international advocacy and civil society groups who claim to be working for the globe and/or particular regions.

Their behaviour cannot be like the governments; their memories cannot be too short; and their perspective of disasters should not just be limited to ‘human death tolls’.

Looking forward to your comments/feedback.

Thanks and regards,



10 Countries Where Climate Change Kills The Most People

Bangalore: It seems that the world is slowly moving towards destruction, mainly due to climate changes. Man-made wars are no longer the only threat to the masses but natural disasters are uncontrollably taking away the lives of millions. Here are the 10 nations where climate change is affecting the lives of the masses, as listed by India TV-

1. Bangladesh:

The geographic location makes Bangladesh vulnerable to natural disasters like floods, drought and cyclones. To a large extent, communities have adapted and developed resilience to changes caused by normal floods. According to National Geographic, this country tops the list of the nation with the most vulnerable impacts by the climate change.

However, severe floods of high magnitude have been creating an adverse impact on the economy and even loss of life. Major floods had occurred in Bangladesh in 1987, 1988, 1998, 2004, 2007 and 2012. During each flood, hundreds of people were killed and many crops were damaged. In 2012, at least 100 people were killed and 250,000 people were left stranded by flash floods and landslides in Sylhet, Bangladesh.

2. Sudan:

Sudan, a North African nation is one of the most disaster prone countries. In this country, temperatures are increasing and rainfall is decreasing. Arid and semi-arid areas are expanding as more water is lost because of the climate change. As such, the land quality is reduced where more of it turns into a desert, and crop yields to fall. As water becomes scarcer, people can no longer be self-sufficient in crop cultivation and livestock husbandry. So, it is an emergency operation for Sudan to responds to the continuing complex humanitarian and food security situation, characterized by localized conflicts, extended displacement and a deteriorating economy. The main effect of climate change is a reduction in rainfall, which also means a reduction in food security and clean water resources.

3. Caribbean:

Caribbean, the island nations, is today at risk for their freshwater supplies, thanks to the frequent climate change. Changing rainfall patterns not only replenish the countries’ underground water reservoirs but also contaminating fresh water supplies with salt water. As per some experts, rising sea and changing climate patterns could result in less rain supply to reservoirs in the coming decades. Not just this, the island nation has also come across a Hurricane Katrina that swept through New Orleans in 2005, taking away the lives of 1,600 people, which further caused an estimated $40 billion of damages. On top of this, many Caribbean nations rely mainly on underground water for their needs, a vulnerable source that would be hit hard by climate change effects.

4. Australia:

Australia’s climate varies extensively because of its large geographical area, but by far, a large part of the country is desert or semi-arid. Due to this, it has always been a hot-spot for natural disasters like forest fires. In Australia, the record high temperatures are increasingly damaging greenery and causing a fall in the water levels in agricultural basins. These are equally hazardous to plants and human life as a whole. An average of 1,100 people loses their lives in Australia due to its varying climatic conditions and this number is expected to increase in the near future.

5. India:

India ranks fifth in the list and the country is undergoing severe drought conditions, having a significant impact on agricultural outputs. Other than drought, the country is prone to natural hazards like earthquakes, floods and landslides. For instance, there were more than 2,00, 000 people whom lost their lives in the earthquake that took place in 2001.  The earthquake reached a magnitude of 7.7 and nearly 40,000 homes were destroyed.

India was also hit by deadly flood in 2009. It had affected various states in India and the most affected were Karnataka, North-Eastern states, Orissa and Gujarat. In 2012, the worst monsoon floods had hit the region of northeast India, which had killed more than 80 people and had forced around 2 million to leave their homes. Even the wildlife was also not spared. Many animals and endangered species were washed away in the floods in Kaziranga National Park, Assam. The most recent disaster that struck the temple town of Uttarakhand too is one of the major effects of climate change.

6. Siberia:

Siberian environment are transforming at a fast pace mainly due to global warming. Evidence shows that carbon cycles are displaying rapid change, with potentially grave consequences for the region’s flora and fauna. Descriptions of energy and water cycles, changes in surface reflectance due to snow, and vegetation coverage are some of the key aspects that indicate the regions’ susceptibility to climatic change. The area is subject to abnormal variations in temperature and precipitation due to the effects of climate change like global warming.

7. Tuvalu:

In Tuvalu, a Polynesian island nation where climate change is of major concern, since the average height of the island is less than 2 meters (6.6 ft) above sea level. , It could be one of the first nations to experience the effects of sea level rise. The sea level varies as a consequence of a wide range of atmospheric and oceanographic influences. Studies show that the influence of global warming could be a major factor in heightening the present climate systems.

8. Great Barrier Reef:

The Great Barrier Reef which is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia is the world's largest coral reef system. This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps. According to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef is the fast changing climatic change that caused ocean warming and that ultimately increases coral bleaching. Due to elevated ocean temperatures, mass coral bleaching events occurred especially during summer and it is expected to become an annual occurrence. This will eventually lead to increased disease susceptibility, which causes harmful ecological effects for reef communities. Climate change has also implications for other forms of reef life.

9. Alps:

The Alps are an iconic symbol of Europe and one of the continent's prime tourist destination. Of late, the Alps are facing the challenge of change in the climate where its temperatures have risen by just under 2°C over the last 120 years, almost twice as much as the global average. This provides a clear picture of the changes brought by global warming. In the recent decades many Alpine glaciers have shrunk to half their earlier size, and by the end of the century all the glaciers of the Alps, with a few exceptions, may well have melted away. The consequences are rock falls, landslides and more mudslides.

10. Myanmar:

In Myanmar, the problem of environmental changes is compounded by the fact that the polity has been caught up in turmoil and this has resulted in environmental hazards. Climatic changes from the cold to warmer seasons led to the rise in temperature and caused the spread of water borne diseases. The change in weather leads to the growth of parasites in the water which impairs the natural process in marine conditions. Fish seem to be dying due to a lack of oxygen and the proliferation of parasitic organisms.

-          By SiliconIndia  |   Tuesday, 19 November 2013

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