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India, Pak among worst prepared for natural disasters

New Delhi : Several countries in South Asia are at highest risk from natural disasters such as floods, severe storms and earthquakes, but people in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, face the greatest exposure from these threats.

A new report by UK-based risk analysis and research company Verisk Maplecroft said 1.4 billion people in South Asia, or 81 per cent of the region’s population, are acutely exposed to at least one type of natural hazard and live in areas considered to have insufficient resources to cope with and rebound from an extreme event.

The research highlighted a lack of resilience to hazards across the region, especially in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

According to the report, these governments have struggled to translate record levels of economic growth into improved resilience against natural hazards, leaving investors open to disruption to economic outputs, risks to business continuity and threats to human capital.

Verisk Maplecroft said countries in Sub-Saharan Africa were most vulnerable to the effects of such disasters. In its Natural Hazards Vulnerability Index report, the company assessed risks from 11 types of natural hazards, including tropical cyclones, floods, winter storms, earthquakes, wildfires and tsunamis in 20 new risk indices covering 198 countries.

The populations of 10 countries -- India, China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, the United States, Japan, Nigeria, Brazil, and Pakistan -- were identified as facing the greatest exposure to natural hazards.

Poor governance, weak infrastructure and high levels of poverty and corruption amplify the losses associated with major natural disasters, the report added. It said the analysis "shows that governance is key to lower vulnerability."

“This data highlights the scale of the task facing governments and business in mitigating the threats to populations and workforces from natural hazards in these high risk regions,” said Dr. James Allan, Director of Environment at Verisk Maplecroft.

“With overseas investment pouring into the emerging Asian markets, companies have an increasing responsibility to understand their exposure and work with governments to build resilience.”

The data identifies flooding as one of the most substantial risks to communities and business in South Asia. In India alone, 113 million people, or 9 per cent of the population, are acutely exposed to flood hazard, with a further 76 million exposed in Bangladesh and 10 million in Pakistan.

Heavy monsoon rain in November-December 2015 sparked record flooding in South India, which cost the country upwards of $3 billion and displaced more than 100,000 people.

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