Asia’s cities are increasing vulnerable to natural disasters due to climate change, urban expansion, and poor planning, warns a report published this week by the Asian Development Bank. Disasters risk undermining recent economic gains in the region.
Cyclones, severe storms, earthquakes, and other disasters kill thousands and cost billions of dollars every year. Climate change is worsening the impacts, especially in low level areas prone to flooding.
“The region has borne the brunt of the physical and economic damage of the sharp rise in natural disasters since the 1980s,” said the Asian Development Bank in a statement. “Its people are four times more likely to be affected by natural disasters than in Africa, and 25 times more likely than in Europe or North America.”
The report says that natural disasters killed more than 650,000 people in the region between 2000 and 2009. It adds that 152 million people are currently considered vulnerable to natural disasters, partly a product of urban population growth and expansion into areas not suitable for habitation.
The report recommends increased spending on urban planning and boosting defenses instead of the more costly approach of repairing damaged infrastructure in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
CITATION: Asian Development Bank. Special Evaluation Study on ADB’s Response to Natural Disasters and Disaster Risks (October 2012).