Increasingly Menacing Natural Disasters

Disaster-prone communities

Over the last two decades, the world witnessed major and cascading natural disasters – one event triggering another e.g. typhoons–floods–landslides; earthquake–tsunami–floods. Climate change fuels further humanitarian crises and jeopardising human safety, security, dignity and development.

Asia, which hosts 40% of the world’s natural catastrophes, is one of the regions hardest hit by the impacts of climate change in the form of hydro-meteorological menaces including droughts, floods and typhoons along with consequential deaths and devastation.

When natural calamities strike, access to clean and safe water remains the critical and challenging issue.

Coastal & Rural Development – Key Challenges

Regardless where people reside – whether in developed, developing or vulnerable regions, human health and progress depend on adequate supply of potable water.

Global warming and climate change not only cause droughts, typhoons, increasing rainfalls, floods and landslides, but also rising sea levels and the consequential saltwater intrusion through rivers and aquifers.

Coastal Settlements

Rising sea levels and storm surges threaten coastal erosion, flooding and affect surface water quality and groundwater characteristics, which impacts on agriculture and aquaculture through decline in soil and water quality, thereby threatening water, food and livelihood security. The reduction of fresh water supply for consumption, irrigation, construction and commerce has significant social, economic and environmental implications for coastal settlements along seas and rivers.

Rural Communities

Development of rural regions usually takes secondary priority compare to their urban and sub-urban counterparts. Ironically, yet typically, rural regions host vital agricultural and industrial sectors. With lesser investments on key infrastructures including water and sanitation, rural communities are more vulnerable to natural and man-made menaces.

Poor waste management represents a major threat to a country's water bodies. Pollution of surface and ground water sources are common harm caused by irresponsible large factories, oil refineries, construction sites, chemical waste management facilities, dump sites and other large scale operations that produce or store large amounts of chemical or hazardous wastes.

The naturally occurring presence of arsenic in groundwater is a potentially injurious and deadly element which affects millions of rural residents across many countries.

Municipal Planning

In order to protect lands, livelihoods and lives, communities and authorities must immediately start preserving and conserving existing water sources. Additionally, there must be genuine will to find ways in overcoming the new and increasing threat of brackish waters caused by frequent seawater intrusions. For sustainability, and given the erratic climate patterns, further contingencies including recycling and desalination must be explored as supplementary sources of water and disaster risk management contingencies.