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Disasters

Spotting fires from space helps India’s foresters

E. Vikram's picture
 Vikas Gusain (April 2017)
Almost all fires in India are set by people intentionally or unintentionally. Ground fire in Chir Pine forests in Gumkhal, Pauri Garwal District, Uttarakhand, India. Credit: Vikas Gusain (April 2017)

The three-day international workshop on forest fires organized by the World Bank and the Forest Ministry of India is a watershed event in the management of forest fires in the country (1-3rd November 2017). On the first day, discussions were held on the latest technology being used to alert foresters to fires.

Almost all fires in India are set by people intentionally or unintentionally. For instance, forest-dependent communities in central India burn the forest floor to encourage the growth of tender tendu leaves, and to collect mahua flowers which standout easily on the charred forest floor.

In the northeast and some parts of central India, forests are rotationally burnt to ashes to enrich the soil for agriculture. After a few seasons of cropping, the depleted area is left to nature and the trees grow back once again. In the western Himalayas, pine needles are cleared every year to encourage the growth of grass for cattle-fodder. When pine needles full of resin pile up year after year, it takes just one spark from a careless smoker to burn down an entire forest of enormous value.

In remote areas, forest fires may not be detected for hours or even days, leading to an irreversible loss of forest wealth. Like any other hazard, the earlier one gets to know about the outbreak, the better it is for both the authorities and the people. Since traditional ways of gathering information from people perched on watch towers are not very effective, satellite sensors that can detect heat and smoke from space have now come to the rescue of foresters across the country.   

Today, the Forest Survey of India, in partnership with the National Remote Sensing Centre, uses these satellite detections to alert foresters across the country about the exact location of forest fires. All steps in the detection and dissemination process have been fully automated – including the processing of satellite data, filtering out fires that burn outside forests, composing personalized SMSs to relevant people, as well as sending them across. This system has helped fire alerts to reach people within 45 minutes to 1 hour of detection, enabling foresters to reach the spot quickly and contain the damage.

India joins other countries in tackling forest fires

Christopher Sall's picture

Fire has been a part of India’s landscape since time immemorial. Every year, forest fires rage through nearly every state, ravaging more than half of India’s districts. Today, with growing populations in and around the forests, these fires are putting more lives and property at risk.  Indian Space Research Organization estimates that in 2014 alone, nearly 49,000 sq.km of forests - larger than the size of Haryana – were burned during the peak fire months of February to May. And, this was a mild year compared to the recent past! 



But, forest fires can also be beneficial. They play a vital role in maintaining healthy forests, recycling nutrients, helping trees to regenerate, removing invasive weeds and lantana, and maintaining habitat for some wildlife.  Occasional fires can also keep down fuel loads that feed larger, more destructive conflagrations.  However, as populations and demands on forest resources grow, the cycle of fires has spun out of balance, and the fires no longer sustain forest health.  In fact, in many countries, wildfires are burning larger areas, and fire seasons are growing longer due to a warming climate. 

Sri Lanka: Building a more resilient economy

Smriti Daniel's picture



At the launch of the Sri Lanka Development Update (SLDU), our Twitter chat #SLDU2017: Environmental Benefits of Economic Management set out to explore how Sri Lanka could meet the twin challenges of increasing its physical and financial resilience.
 
The panel comprised experts from the World Bank - Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough; Senior Economist Ralph van Doorn and senior environmental specialist Darshani De Silva – and Kanchana Wickramasinghe, a research economist in the Institute of Policy Studies. Together, they unpacked the SLDU, discussed its key findings and fielded questions from across the region around its main themes.
 
The bi-annual report, notes key economic developments over the preceding months, placing them in a longer term and global perspective; in the Special Focus section, it explores topics of particular policy significance to Sri Lanka. 
 
Ralph started with the idea that Sri Lanka faces a window of opportunity during which key reforms could transform the country and its economy. He noted that Sri Lanka’s position in the global economy improved its global growth prospects, as well as that of its key export partners. Low commodity prices and the restoration of the GSP+ preferential trade arrangement with the EU had also combined to improve the outlook for the Sri Lankan economy.

For Idah, the country’s mood and the government’s commitment to change were critical to success:   
 
The panel delved into how natural disasters and extreme weather events posed a threat to Sri Lanka’s growing economy. In the short-term the damage was clear and serious, with losses amounting to several billions a year, as Idah noted in her blog. During the chat, she emphasised how Sri Lanka needed to be prepared for future disasters or it would cost the country enormously.
 
Kanchana pointed out that in the long-term, disasters could set back poverty alleviation efforts, especially in agricultural and rural areas, adding:
 

With the chat underway, questions poured in from an online audience who were interested in diverse issues – from managing Sri Lanka’s ongoing drought and its impact on the Northern Province to what insights the SLDU had to offer other countries in the region such as India.

When in the eye of a storm….

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough's picture
Abandoned fishing boats lay on the banks of the dried Siyambalankkatuwa reservoir in Sri Lanka's Puttalam District, Aug. 10, 2017. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Amantha Perera
Abandoned fishing boats lay on the banks of the dried Siyambalankkatuwa reservoir in Sri Lanka's Puttalam District, Aug. 10, 2017. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Amantha Perera
This year, yet again, flooding caused by heavy monsoon rains came and receded. Meanwhile, this year alone, more than one million people have been hard hit by the worst drought in 40 years.
 
The media, with few exceptions, have moved on to other topics and a sense of calm pervades. 
 
We are in the eye of the storm -- that misleading lull before mother nature unleashes her fury once again. 
 
In Sri Lanka alone, costs from natural disasters, losses from damage to housing, infrastructure, agriculture, and from relief are estimated at LKR 50 billion (approx. USD 327 million).  The highest annual expected losses are from floods (LKR 32 billion), cyclones or high winds (LKR 11 billion), droughts (LKR 5.2 billion) and landslides (LKR 1.8 billion). This is equivalent to 0.4 percent of GDP or 2.1 percent of government expenditure. (#SLDU2017). Floods and landslides in May 2016 caused damages amounting to US$572 million.   
 
These numbers do not paint the full picture of impact for those most affected, who lost loved ones, irreplaceable belongings, or livestock and more so for those who are back to square one on the socio-economic ladder.
 
Even more alarming, these numbers are likely to rise as droughts and floods triggered by climate change will become more frequent and severe. And the brief respite in between will only get shorter, leaving less time to prepare for the hard days to come.
 
Therefore, better planning is even more necessary. Sri Lanka, like many other countries has started to invest in data that highlights areas at risk, and early warning systems to ensure that people move to safer locations with speed and effect.
 
Experience demonstrates that the eye of the storm is the time to look to the future, ready up citizens and institutions in case of extreme weather.
 
Now is the time to double down on preparing national plans to respond to disasters and build resilience. 

It’s the time to test our systems and get all citizens familiar with emergency drills. But, more importantly, we need to build back better and stronger.  In drought-affected areas, we can’t wait for the rains and revert to the same old farming practices. It’s time to innovate and stock up on critical supplies and be prepared when a disaster hits.
 
It’s the time to plan for better shelters that are safe and where people can store their hard-earned possessions.
 
Mobilizing and empowering communities is essential. But to do this, we must know who is vulnerable – and whether they should stay or move.  Saving lives is first priority, no doubt. Second, we should also have the necessary systems and equipment to respond with speed and effect in times of disasters. Third, a plan must be in place to help affected families without much delay.
 
Fortunately, many ongoing initiatives aim to do just that.

Bangladesh: Building resilience in the eye of the storm (Part 3/3)

Sameh Wahba's picture


This is the third of a three-part series, Resilience in the of the Eye of the Storm, on how Bangladesh has become a leader in coastal resilience.
 
Over the years, Bangladesh has taken major strides to reduce the vulnerability of its people to disasters and climate change. And today, the country is at the forefront in managing disaster risks and building coastal resilience.
 
Let’s compare the impact of the Bhola Cyclone of 1970 to the far stronger Cyclone Sidr in 2007. The 1970 cyclone was then the deadliest in Bangladesh’s history, and one of the 10 deadliest natural disasters on record. Official documents indicate that over 300,000 lives were lost, and many believe the actual numbers could be far higher. 
 
By contrast, Sidr was the strongest cyclone to ever make landfall in Bangladesh. This time, fewer than 3,500 people lost their lives. While tragic, this represents about 1% of the lives lost in 1970 or 3% of the nearly 140,000 lost lives in the 1991 cyclone.
 
The cyclones of 1970 and 1991 were unprecedented in scale. Yet, they steered the country into action.

اطلاعات پیرامون خطرات احتمالی می تواند سبب ایجاد انعطاف پذیری در مقابل آفات اقلیمی در افغانستان شود

Julian Palma's picture
Also available in: English | پښتو
عکس: شرکت مشورتی رومی/ بانک جهانی
افغانستان از ناحیه خطرات و آفات طبیعی بشمول زلزله، سیلاب، خشکسالی، لغزش زمین و برف کوچ ها اسیب پذیر بوده،. علاوه بر آن خطرات ناشی از فعالیت های انسانی نیز بر این مشکل افزده است.   در میان کشور هایی که دارای سطح  پائین درآمد اند، افغانستان بعد از کشور هایتی دومین کشوریست که بیشترین تعداد تلفات انسانی در اثر حوادث طبیعی را بین سال های ۱۹۸۰ الی ۲۰۱۵ شاهدبوده است. با این حال  در سال های اخیر دولت افغانستان با درک عمیق از چگونگی تاثیرات وقایع و فاجعه های خطرناک اقلیمی و منتج شدن آن به افزایش خطرات امنیتی دست یافته است. بطور مثال، خشکسالی های شدید و دوامدار سبب افزایش عدم مصؤنیت غذایی گردیده که همه ساله به طور اوسط ۲۸۰  میلیون دالر امریکایی زیان و خساره درسکتور زراعت این کشور می گردد. در مقایسه با تاثیر گذاری وقایع امنیتی، که (۱۵ درصد) می باشد، حوادث طبیعی و صدمات ناشی از وقایع اقلیمی روی ۵۹ درصد   نفوس کشور، مخصوصاً در مناطقی که سطح اقتصاد پایین دارند، بیشتر تاثیرگذار است.

دسترسی به اطلاعات درمورد خطرات طبیعی یک امر حیاتی محسوب میگردد، بالخصوص در کشور آسیب پذیری مانند افغانستان که از هر پنج نفر نفوس آن، چهار نفر وابسته به منابع طبیعی غرض امرار معیشت می باشند. برای تقویت قابلیت انعطاف پذیری در مقابله با حوادث طبیعی، سرمایه گذاری ها در افغانستان روی جمع اوری اطلاعات در رابطه به آفات طبیعی نهایت ضروری پنداشته شده، تا این اطلاعات شامل  برنامه ریزی، طرح و تطبیق برنامه های رویدست گرفته شده، شامل گردد. برای حمایت از تلاش های دولت افغانستان، بانک جهانی با اداره تسهیلات جهانی برای کاهش حوادث و احیای مجدد در همکاری نزدیک وزارت دولت در امور رسیدگی به حوادث  اخیراً یک ارزیابی جامع خطرات چندگانه مشخصات خطر، را تهیه نموده که هدف آن مستند سازی اطلاعات درباره خطرهای احتمالی و بالقوه از ناحیه سیلاب های رود خانه یی و ناگهانی، خشکسالی ها، لغزش زمین، برف کوچ ها و زلزله می باشد. روی عمده ترین موضوعات یافته های این ارزیابی، میتودولوژی (روش)، و نتایج متوقعه، اخیراً در یک نشت بخش مدیریت خطرات ناشی از حوادث گروپ بانک جهانی بحث و گفتگو صورت گرفت. بعضی نکات مهمی که در این بحث مطرح شد، قرار ذیل است:

مشخصات خطر و آسیب پذیری افغانستان چیست؟
  • سیلاب ها یکی از حوادث طبیعی مکرر درطول تاریخ در افغانستان بوده، که بطور اوسط سالانه تخمیناً ۵۴ میلیون دالر امریکایی خساره وارد میکند؛ سیلاب های ناگهانی بزرگ  بالاتر از ۵۰۰ میلیون دالر خسارات را وارد کرده می تواند.
  • از لحاظ تاریخی، زلزله بیشترین تلفات را به میان آورده است، که از سال ۱۹۸۰ به بعد سبب هلاکت بیش از ۱۰۰۰۰ نفر گردیده است.
  • حدود سه میلیون نفر در معرض خطرات بسیار بلند   لغزش زمین قرار دارند.
  • از سال ۲۰۰۰ تا اکنون، در حدود ۶،۵  میلیون نفر بر اثر خشکسالی ها متضرر  شده و خشکسالی شدید می تواند سکتور زراعت افغانستان را تخمیناً ۳ میلیارد دالر خسارمند سازد و این کشور را با قلت جدی مواد خوراکی مواجه سازد.
  • تخمیناً ۱۰۰۰۰ کیلومتر سرک (۱۵ درصد تمامی سرک های افغانستان) در معرض خطر برف کوچ قرار دارند که در میان آن شاهراه های کلیدی مانند شاهراه
    سالنگ شامل می باشد. 

د احتمالي خطرونو په اړه اطلاعات کولای شي په افغانستان کې د اقلیمي افتونو پر وړاندې د انعطاف مننې لامل وګرځي

Julian Palma's picture
Also available in: English | دری
انځور: د رومي مشورتي شرکت/ نړیوال بانک
افغانستان د زلزلې، سیلاب، وچکالي، ځمک ښوئیدنې او برف کوچ په ګډون د خطرونو او طبیعي پيښو له اړخه ډېر زیانمنونکۍ هېواد دی. سربیره پر دې، د انساني فعالیتونو له کبله راولاړ شويو ګواښونو هم دا ستونزه پسې لویه کړې ده. د هغو هېوادونو په منځ کې، چې د عاید کچه یې ټيټه ده، افغانستان له هایټي وروسته د نړۍ هغه دویم هېواد دی، چې له ۱۹۸۰ څخه تر ۲۰۱۵ کال پورې یې د طبیعي پیښو له کبله زیات شمېر ملکي تلفات ورکړي دي. سره له دې هم، په وروستیو کلونو کې افغان حکومت د پیښو او د اقلیمي خطرناکو فاجعو اغیز او له هغو څخه د رامنځته شویو  امنیتي خطرونو په اړه ژور پوهې  تر لاسه کړی دی. د بېلګې په توګه، شدیده او پر له پسې وچکالي  د خوړو د نه خوندیتوب سبب ګرځیدلی، چې هر کال په منځنی کچه ۲۸۰ میلیون امریکايي ډالر د هېواد د کرڼې سکټور ته زیان  پیښوي. د امنیتي پیښو د اغیزو په پرتله، چې (۱۵ سلنه) دي، طبیعي پیښې او له اقلیمي واقعاتو څخه را پورته شوي زیانونه او تاوانونه د هېواد پر ۵۹ سلنه وګړو په تیره بیا په هغو سیمو کې چې د اقتصاد کچه یې ټیټه ده، زیاته اغیزه لري.

طبیعي خطراتو په اړه اطلاعاتو ته لاسرسی یو حیاتي امر ګڼل کېږي، په تیره بیا د افغانستان په شان زیانمنونکی هېواد کې چې له هرو پنځو وګړو څخه یې څلور کسه خپل ژوند د طبیعي سرچینو له مخې پر مخ وړي. د طبیعي پیښو پر وړاندې د انعطاف مننې  د وړتیا د پیاوړتیا لپاره، په افغانستان کې د طبیعي افاتو په اړه د اطلاعاتو د راټولوونې په اړه پانګه اچوونه ډېره اړینه ده تر، څو همدا اطلاعات بیا د پروګرامونو په طرح او پلي کېدلو کې وکارول شي. د افغان دولت د هلوځلو د ملاتړ لپاره، نړیوال بانک او دنړۍ د ناورین د کمښت او بیارغونې د آسانتیا اداره د طبیعي پیښو د څېړلو  په چارو کې د دولت له وزارت سره په نږدې همکارۍ، د خطر د ځانګړنو په اړه یوه بشپړه ارزونه چمتو کړه، چې موخه یې د سیلابونو ، وچکالیو، ځمک ښوئیدنې، برف کوچ او زلزلو په اړه د احتمالي او بالقوه خطرونو په اړه د اطلاعات مستند کول دي. د همدې ارزونې د موندنو پر عمده موضوع ګانو، میتودولوژي او متوقعه پایلو باندې په دې وروستیو کې د یوې ناستې په ترڅ کې د نړیوال بانک د ګروپ له استازو سره خبرې اترې وشوي. په دغه ناسته کې ځینې مهم ټکي په لاندې ډول مطرح شول: ي وو:
د خطر ځانګړنې او د افغانستان زیانمننې  څه شی ده؟
  • سیلابونه د افغانستان د تاریخ په اوږدو کې یو له مکرره طبیعي پیښو څخه دي، چې په منځنۍ توګه په کال کې ۵۴ میلیون امریکايي ډالر زیانونه رامنځته کوي؛ ستر ناڅاپه سیلابونه بیا له ۵۰۰ میلیون امریکايي ډالرو څخه پورته زیانونه رامنځته کولای شي.
  • له تاریخې اړخه، زلزلو زیاتره تلفات رامنځته کړي دي، چې له ۱۹۸۰ کال څخه را وروسته د ۱۰۰۰۰ خلکو د مړینې لامل شوی ده.
  • شاوخوا دری میلیونه وګړي د ځمکې  ښوئیدنې له ډېر لوړ خطر سره مخ دي.
  • له ۲۰۰۰ ز کال څخه تر اوسه پورې، شاوخوا  ۶،۵ میلیونه وګړي د وچکالۍ له لاسه په شدیده توګه سره زیانمن  شوي دي او شدیده وچکالي کولای شي د افغانستان کرڼیز سکټور ته د اټکل له مخې ۳ میلیارد امریکايي ډالر تاوان ورسوي او دا هېواد د خوراکي توکو له سخت کمښت سره مخ کړي.
  • د اټکل له مخې ۱۰۰۰۰ کیلومتره سړک (د افغانستان د ټولو سړکونو ۱۵ سلنه) د برف کوچ له خطر سره مخ دي، چې په دې منځ کې مهمه لویه لاره لکه سالنګ هم شامل دی.

Climate in Crisis: How Risk Information Can Build Resilience in Afghanistan

Julian Palma's picture
Also available in: دری | پښتو
Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank
Afghanistan is vulnerable to a number of natural hazards, including earthquakes, flooding, drought, landslides and avalanches, as well as hazards arising from human interaction. Among low income countries, Afghanistan is second only to Haiti in terms of the number of fatalities caused by natural disasters between 1980 and 2015. In the last few years, however, the Afghan Government has increasingly understood how the consequences of extreme weather events and disasters add to existing security risks. Severe and prolonged droughts, for instance, have increased food insecurity, causing on average $280 million in economic damage to agriculture each year. Natural disasters and climate-related shocks affect 59 percent of the population, concentrated in economically poorer regions, as opposed to security-related shocks (15 percent).[1]
 
The availability of disaster risk information is particularly important for a fragile state like Afghanistan where 4 out of 5 people rely on natural resources for their livelihoods.[2] To strengthen resilience, investments in Afghanistan need to incorporate information on natural hazards in their planning, design and implementation. To help support government efforts, the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), in close cooperation with the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA), recently produced a comprehensive multi-hazard assessment level and risk profile[3], documenting information on current and future risk from fluvial and flash floods, droughts, landslides, snow avalanches and seismic hazards. The main findings, methodology and expected outcomes were recently discussed and presented to the Disaster Risk Management community of practice within the World Bank Group. A number of takeaways from the discussion are presented below:
 
What is Afghanistan’s risk profile and vulnerability?
  • Flooding is the most frequent natural hazard historically, causing average annual damage estimated at $54 million; large flood episodes can cause over $500 million in damage
  • Historically, earthquakes have caused the most fatalities, killing more than 10,000 people since 1980
  • 3 million people are at risk from very high or high landslide hazard
  • Droughts have affected 6.5 million people since 2000; an extreme drought could cause an estimated $3 billion in agricultural losses, and lead to severe food shortages across the country;
  • An estimated 10,000 km of roads (15 percent of all roads) are exposed to avalanches, including key transport routes like the Salang Pass

Bangladesh: Building resilience in the eye of the storm (Part 2/3)

Sameh Wahba's picture

Photo: Swarna Kazi / World Bank

This is the second of a three-part series, "Resilience in the of the Eye of the Storm," on how Bangladesh has become a leader in coastal resilience.

 
With a population of 160 million, Bangladesh is situated at the epicenter of some of the deadliest cyclones the world has ever experienced. Catastrophic events are the norm rather than the exception. A severe tropical cyclone can strike every 3 years and 25% of the land floods annually.
 
The network of the mighty Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna rivers makes its meandering journey through the delta into the Bay of Bengal forming the coast of Bangladesh.
 
The jagged coastline of Bangladesh spans hundreds of miles and is subject to multiple challenges: 62% of the coastal land has an elevation of up to 3 meters and 83% is up to 5 meters above sea level. These low-lying areas are highly vulnerable to natural hazards.
 
Earlier this year, I got a chance to see first-hand the challenges that this demanding landscape had brought onto the communities of a remote coastal village. What struck me most when speaking to members of this coastal community was their courage and resilience. Aware that a calamity can hit anytime, they struggle to protect their livelihoods affected by saltwater intrusion, and their own lives which are increasingly at risk due to rising sea levels, and exposure to more frequent and devastating storms and cyclones.
 
By 2050, the coastal population is projected to grow to 61 million people, whose livelihoods will increasingly be at risk due to the impact of climate change.
 
Triggered by climate change, seawater inundation could become a major problem for traditional agriculture. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (2014), climate-related declines in food productivity will impact livelihoods and exports and increase poverty. In Bangladesh, it is estimated that these factors would cause a net increase in poverty of 15% by 2030.
 
To mitigate against such risks, the government has been investing in strengthening the resilience of the coastal zone. Over the years, Bangladesh has become an example of how protective coastal infrastructure, together with social mobilization and community-based early warning systems, is helping to build resilience.

When Afghan refugees come home

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
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When it comes to conflict and displacement, we often think about the refugees forced to flee their homes. Equally affected, however, are the ones making their way home after a trying time in exile—the returnees.

In South Asia, Afghanistan is a country experiencing a huge influx of returnees, many from Pakistan and Iran. In 2016 alone, the country welcomed 600,000 returnees. UNHCR predicts another 500,000 to 700,000 returnees by the end of 2017.

On top of that, conflict-driven displacement continues in Afghanistan. In a country of over 30 million people, there is an estimated 1-2 million of displaced population (UN-OCHA, UNHCR, IOM).

One can only imagine how much pressure the displacement crisis is putting on the cities and communities hosting refugees and returnees—starting with the challenge of providing basic services such as water and housing, let alone jobs and security.


In this video, World Bank Senior Director Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG) and Lead Social Development Specialist Janmejay Singh will unpack the challenge and share how innovative community-driven approaches are helping to support returnees in conflict-affected Afghanistan—through Citizens’ Charter Afghanistan Project and other World Bank-supported activities.

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