With rapid urbanization and economic growth in developing countries, more and more people are migrating to cities for better opportunities. Half of world's population (3.6 billion) now lives in cities. This is no less true for India where urban population is expected to grow to 600 million (an addition of 223 million) by 2030. Many of Indian cities lack basic infrastructure, governance, and social and economic planning to meet the growing needs of people. Expected increase in the number of climatic hazard events coupled with cities having little resilience is a sure path for mega disasters with severe consequences. While climate change requires global efforts at all levels and there is a limitation on what can be done at local and regional levels to see immediate effects, it is critical to make cities climate-resilient for normal circumstances to start with.
This study by IRADe (Integrated Research and Action for Development) looks at hazard (flooding, landslides, cyclones, etc.), infrastructure (water supply, sewerage, drainage, etc.), governance (e.g., transparency, accountability), and socio-economic indicators (e.g., population, slum population) to profile vulnerability of 20 key cities in India. The goal of this study is to develop a rapid vulnerability assessment of cities (over 400 cities/towns in India) by highlighting various risk exposures and vulnerability factors. Selected cities have diverse exposure to climate hazards and socio-economic characteristics. Some of the cities (e.g., Delhi, Indore) have evolved along the riverside while others along the coast (e.g., Mumbai, Kolkata). Almost all of these cities are found to be prone to flooding and have inadequate infrastructure in one or more categories. City of Kolkata is found to be exposed to most number of climate related hazards followed by Mumbai. Local governments can use the results of this study to focus on key vulnerabilities and for city planning to better prepare for climate risks. An indirect benefit of planned cities would be reduction in CO2 production through reliance on public transportation, efficient water and waste management, and improved productivity for society in general.
A new study (Mind the risk: a global ranking of cities under threat from natural disasters) by Swiss Re not only identifies natural hazard risks, but also quantifies the natural hazard risks for 616 cities around the world in terms of people potentially affected and working days lost. This study shows Kolkata the most vulnerable city in India and among the top 10 in global ranking in terms of potentially affected people (17.9 millions) for all perils combined. The findings of this study can be used in conjunction with the vulnerability indicators (e.g., infrastructure, governance) identified in the IRADe study to gain valuable insights about the scale of natural hazard risks to Indian cities.
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Disaster risk