India at highest risk from river floods in world: study

Oslo: India is at the highest risk from river floods in the world, with an increasing number of people threatened by climate change and economic growth in low-lying regions, according to a new study.

The US-based World Resources Institute think-tank and four Dutch research groups estimated that some 21 million people worldwide were affected by river flooding in a year.

"That number could increase to 54 million in 2030 due to climate change and socio-economic development," a report by Institute for Environmental Studies of the VU University Amsterdam said. In India, approximately 4.84 million people get affected by floods in a typical year, the study said.

The top 15 countries, including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and China, account for nearly 80 per cent of the total population affected every year, it said. These countries are all considered least developed or developing. Roughly 167,000 people in the US, the highest-ranked high-income country, are affected every year by floods, the study said.

India also has the highest effect on its GDP by river flooding at USD 14.3 billion, it said. "India faces more potential change in exposed GDP than any other country. Using a middle-of-the road scenario, India's current USD 14 billion in GDP exposed annually could increase more than 10-fold to USD 154 billion in 2030," it said.

Climate change is a greater driver of change in population exposure to river floods than socioeconomic development, because both the frequency and intensity of river floods is expected to increase due to climate change in many areas, it said. "This phenomenon would expand flood-prone areas, and make floods more likely to occur in those areas more often," the study said.

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