ISLAMABAD: People in Asia and the Pacific were displaced more than 225 million times due to disasters triggered by natural hazards from 2010 to 2021, accounting for more than three-quarters of the global number, according to a report released on Monday by the Asian Development Bank and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

The figure of 225m displacements does not include the estimated hundreds of thousands of people displaced in Pakistan due to severe flooding since June this year. The report says climate change, combined with the rapid urbanisation of the region and other factors may significantly heighten future displacement risk and related costs.

Key findings of the report, “Disaster Displacement in Asia and the Pacific: A Business Case for Investment in Prevention and Solutions”, says the cost of disasters in the region is estimated to be several hundred billions of dollars each year. This does not include the economic impact of displacement itself.

The report found that investment in the prevention of disaster displacement is the only sustainable course of action for the socio-economic development of the region. There has been significant progress across the region to develop disaster displacement policies and translate words into action. Much still remains to be done to effectively mitigate the impact of disaster displacement on individuals, societies and economies, it says.

East Asia and Southeast Asia had the highest number of disaster displacements — nearly two-thirds of the total — closely followed by South Asia. Weather-related hazards, such as monsoon rains and tropical storms were responsible for 95 per cent of all the disaster displacements across the region during 2010-21.

The report discussed the role of climate change in disaster displacement, noting that the effects of climate change are becoming visible, and are projected to increase displacement as the frequency and intensity of hazards changes and impacts on food insecurity and water scarcity. It also looks at the social and economic impacts and what steps are being taken to better prevent and prepare for disaster displacement.

It analysed the impacts of floods, storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity on each sub-region in Asia and the Pacific, and how disaster displacement disproportionately affects vulnerable groups such as women, children, and the elderly.

The report discussed the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction as a gauge on measures undertaken to address both natural and manmade hazards and highlights the need for political, technical, and financial support in a regional concerted effort to reduce the impact of disasters on lives, livelihoods, and economies.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2022

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