Patna, – Almost 750 million (75 Crore) people in South Asia were affected by a combination of climate hazards in the decade after 2000, according to a new research report by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). The report further identifies agriculture as the most vulnerable sector.

Launching the report at a policy dialogue workshop, Prof. Chandrashekhar, Minister of Disaster Management Department, Government of Bihar, said, “Bihar experiences heavy floods despite not receiving good rains. This is mostly due to water coming in from neighboring states and countries. On the other hand, we suffer twice, as people of Bihar do not receive enough water to meet their requirements during the dry season. India has no shortage of talent, but devotion and motivation is required to implement a successful initiative which benefits people. Satellite‐based insurance is a historic initiative; our department will extend all support to this effort.”

The research report presents a detailed approach to mapping hazards and identifying risks for floods, droughts, extreme rainfall, extreme temperature and sea‐level rise in South Asia. The study applies for the first time a consistent methodology across different climate‐related hazards, includes assessment of the population affected along with agricultural losses and makes use of spatial data and customized tools.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Alok Kumar Mehta, Minister for Co‐operative Department, Government of Bihar added, “Awareness needs to be built about preventive actions not just at a policy level but also at an individual level. Enabling private participation and investing in technological innovation would help Bihar deal with weather disasters in a better fashion. Multiple agriculture insurance schemes lead to duplication. It needs integration and convergence, which satellite data and technology can perhaps help with. I offer full cooperation from my department to take forward this initiative.”

Jointly organized by the Government of Bihar, IWMI and ICAR Research Complex for Eastern Region (ICAR‐RCER), the policy workshop also brought together representatives from state and central government agencies, NGOs, private insurance companies, panchayat, farmers and development partners. Ideas and expertise were exchanged on identifying climate adaptation solutions, using the latest technology to promote better resilience among small and marginal farmers and vulnerable communities.

Climate variability poses a significate threat to populations across the world, with the poor and disadvantaged at the greatest risk. South Asia, and the Indo‐Gangetic plain in particular, is at high risk   from floods. According to the Government of India, the country’s economy is closely linked to its natural resource base, with millions of people dependent on climate‐sensitive livelihood sectors, such as agriculture, water, and forestry.

The state of Bihar is vulnerable to both floods and droughts. Being the most flood‐prone state in the country, it has suffered an agricultural loss of almost 22 billion Rupees   (0.34 billion USD) in the past 12 years due to floods.

Photo: Bioversity International

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