$1.7 trillion needed per year to build disaster-resilient infrastructure in Asia: ADB

New Delhi: Developing economies across Asia are among the most vulnerable to natural disasters and have suffered damages estimated at 644 billion dollars since 2000, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Of these, weather-related hazards caused the greatest share at 507 billion dollars (or 79 percent) while geophysical hazards accounted for the remaining 137 billion dollars (or 21 percent), as per a recent ADB report titled ‘Asian Development Outlook 2019: Strengthening Disaster Resilience.’

Developing economies across Asia are among the most dynamic globally.

“However, they are also among the most vulnerable to natural hazards such as storms, floods, droughts, tsunamis and earthquakes, and to the impacts of climate change such as sea-level rise, coastal erosion, and extreme temperatures,” it said.

Consequently, economic damage from tropical cyclones in countries that are not wealthy members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is forecast to be doubled or trebled by 2100 by socio-economic change alone, soaring from the current 6.7 billion dollars a year to 13 billion to 18 billion dollars by 2100.

Household surveys following severe flooding in Indian cities show that in the absence of social protection, disaster-hit families used up savings or borrowed at high interest rates from informal lenders, pushing them further into indebtedness and poverty.

Poor households were disproportionately affected by disasters in that they are more likely to be hit by a disaster than wealthier households. When hit, they suffered greater losses relative to their income.

Compounding these vulnerabilities, poorer households had difficulty accessing the mechanisms that were typically used to cope with income shocks — notably financial services like insurance and credit.

To avert such situations, the report says, early warning is best done through a collective approach. Regional neighbors can establish and maintain an integrated warning system as a regional public good that reduces cost while boosting efficacy.

“An integrated system can avoid duplication of components and enable effective coordination in the deployment of detection equipment while participating countries’ inter-dependence and mutual oversight provide incentives to maintain the system.”

To build disaster-resilient infrastructure, investment needs in developing Asia are estimated at 26 trillion dollars from 2016 to 2030, or 1.7 trillion dollars per year, including necessary investments in climate-change mitigation and adaptation, the report says.