COLOMBO, 4 April 2014 (IRIN) – Sri Lanka has had six months of drought and could face severe crop losses and electricity shortages if the coming monsoon is as weak as forecasts predict, experts say.
“The situation is really, really bad,” said Ranjith Punyawardena, chief climatologist at the Department of Agriculture. “Already there are harvest losses and more are anticipated.”
According to Punyawardena, 5 percent (280,000 tons) of the 2014 rice harvest has already been lost due to the ongoing drought, which stretches back to November 2013. With 200,000 hectares of rice fields (20 percent of the annual cultivated total) planted during the secondary harvesting season already lost, experts say the losses from the drought could be exacerbated by the forecasted weak southwest monsoon, due in May. http://www.irinnews.org/report/99884/drought-begins-to-bite-in-sri-lanka
TOKYO, 9 December 2013 (IRIN) – Relief will be more easily and quickly available, and the economic fallout much more manageable, if governments project and plan fiscally for potential natural disasters and their human and economic toll well in advance, experts say.
The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has calculated that since 2000, economies have lost as much as US$2.5 trillion due to natural hazards. In 2011 Thailand lost around 5 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to floods, and Japan lost some 4 percent of its GDP to the earthquake and tsunami.
How early warning technology protects Nepali villagers from sudden floods.
The early warning system gives villagers 5-8 minutes’ notice of a flood – just enough time to save themselves.
Five flood sensors are positioned near the Nepal-China Friendship Bridge, about 6 km upstream from the power station.
If the water in the river reaches a dangerous level, the sensors activate sirens placed at four locations, including one at the power plant. The sirens warn the communities to flee to higher ground. Residents use their mobile phones to warn other villages further downstream.
According to authorities, a glacial lake outburst flood takes about five minutes to travel from the Nepal-China Friendship Bridge to the plant and lives can be saved if people respond to the alarm immediately.
KATHMANDU, May 16 2013 (IPS) – With a combined population of over 1.7 billion, which includes some of the world’s poorest but also a sizeable middle class with a growing spending capacity, South Asia is a policymaker’s nightmare. The region’s urban population is set to double by 2030, with India alone adding 90 million city dwellers to its metropolises since 2000. Over 75 percent of South Asia’s residents live in rural areas, with agriculture accounting for 60 percent of the labour force, according to recent statistics released by the World Bank.
South Asia has always been a climatic hot spot. According to Pramod Aggarwal, South Asia principal researcher and regional programme leader for agriculture and food security for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), over 70 percent of the region is prone to drought, 12 percent to floods and eight percent to cyclones.
Millions affected, tens of thousands displaced, damages in billions of dollars – Sri Lanka is facing the brunt of changing climate cycles. Extreme weather events are becoming ordinary, but still authorities are not geared to tackle them and make sure the affected are not left helpless. There is always the chance that the victims could be in for double jeopardy, as 2012 showed. http://www.irinnews.org/Report/98008/Beating-wild-weather-in-Sri-Lanka
The local communities have developed different approaches and response mechanisms to deal with different water-induced disaster including flooding in Kailali district, one of the most vulnerable districts in the country to flooding, landslide and earthquake. From life vests made up of plastic bottles to farmer-managed irrigation systems and biological embankments using bamboos and other locally available stuffs, the communities have used their traditional knowledge and expertise to deal with disasters. Unfortunately, these local efforts have neither been documented nor strengthened to help vulnerable ones with disasters.