South Asia Hit by Deadly Monsoon Flooding – Environmental Risks
14 Sep 2017
This year’s monsoon season has led to the death of more than 1,400 in the South Asian countries of India, Bangladesh, and Nepal; millions have been left displaced. The Red Cross has estimated that as many as 41 million people have been impacted in some way during this year’s monsoon season.At its peak, one third of Bangladesh was said to have been submerged by flood waters. On 11 August, the equivalent of a week’s worth of monsoon rains fell in areas across the country in only a few hours, forcing mass and rapid evacuations. The areas of Nepal most impacted are those with the most impoverished population, with many living in buildings made of mud. In India, the states most affected included Assam, Bihar, Odisha, and West Bengal; the state of Bihar has been most seriously impacted.
- The death toll from the 2017 monsoon season has risen to more than 1,400.
- Residents in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal have all been impacted by flooding.
- Millions have been displaced across the Indian subcontinent, with infrastructure severely damaged.
Environmental: This year’s monsoon season has led to the death of more than 1,400 in the South Asian countries of India, Bangladesh, and Nepal; millions have been left displaced. The Red Cross has estimated that as many as 41 million people have been impacted in some way during this year’s monsoon season.
At its peak, one third of Bangladesh was said to have been submerged by flood waters. On 11 August, the equivalent of a week’s worth of monsoon rains fell in areas across the country in only a few hours, forcing mass and rapid evacuations. The areas of Nepal most impacted are those with the most impoverished population, with many living in buildings made of mud. In India, the states most affected included Assam, Bihar, Odisha, and West Bengal; the state of Bihar has been most seriously impacted.
Solace Global Comment
The monsoon season usually runs from June until the end of September across the Indian sub-continent. Despite its annual occurrence, it is difficult to accurately predict and not thoroughly understood. Heavy monsoon rainfall causes widespread flooding, landslides, and mudslides. The 2017 monsoon is said to have been the worst in at least a decade, with months of rainfall causing widespread damage, death, and hazardous travel conditions in rural areas especially. Floods have also left the South Asian populous vulnerable to diseases and lacking in basic foodstuffs.
South Asian countries have serious infrastructural issues. In July this year, India’s federal auditor reported that in most states there had been no identification or assessment of flood-prone areas to help prepare for the onset of the monsoon. Most Indian states have focused their budgets on flood relief, rather than prevention, with few early warning systems. Moreover, although there have been recent attempts to rectify this issue, there is little coordination between countries in the region, despite flooding beginning upstream in Nepal before impacting India and subsequently Bangladesh. Rectifying the above issues with significant reforms are much needed in order to ensure that the impact of the monsoon season is limited in the future.
The monsoon season should demonstrate to travellers one of the most challenging aspects of travel to the region, including large cities; the issue of health and safety deficiencies. After heavy downpours on 31 August, at least 33 people died after a building collapse in India’s largest city, Mumbai. A four-storey building was reduced to rubble in the densely populated area of Bendi Bazaar. Evacuations were made from neighbouring buildings as significant cracks were found. Flooding across the city caused traffic to come to a standstill in many places. A number of locations, including the large cities seem unprepared for the environmental threats which they regularly face.
At the time of writing, flood levels had receded somewhat (though they have the potential to return). However, there remains significant challenges for authorities in these three countries for at least the medium-term. Authorities will have to work out how to deal with the tens of millions made homeless, millions of hectares of agricultural land damaged by the monsoon, and the potential threat of the outbreak of serious diseases. It should also be noted that monsoon fronts are currently heading northwest towards Pakistan. At present, it is unclear what impact this will have.
SECURITY ADVICEArmed ConflictHigh
Travel to the region is likely to be more challenging than usual in the coming weeks and months. Roads, especially in rural areas, are liable to flooding and landslide which will inhibit road travel. Monsoon weather has impacted flight schedules and it is possible that further flight delays will be endured, often with little notice given.
If undertaking travel to the region, it is important that all journeys are undertaken with careful journey management planning in order to avoid the most impacted roads, reducing the risk of injury due to landslides. Travellers should consider many locations may be unreachable by land, meaning that alternative travel arrangements may need to be made. Moreover, long journeys, especially those on rural roads, should be cautiously considered in line with the latest weather forecast. Travellers should undertake careful research of any hotels or residences due to be used (if possible), especially given the recent casualties caused by building collapses. Travellers should also ensure preparedness for water- and insect-borne diseases, making sure that the necessary health insurance is in place. Individuals should also be aware that a number of clinics and hospitals, in rural areas especially, are likely to have been severely impacted by monsoon flooding.
In any environmental disaster, it is important to follow the instruction of local officials. In certain locations, including the Indian sub-continent, the preparedness of local officials is not always of a sufficient standard. Travellers should always take note of local media, should any warnings or instructions be issued. In general, the advice when flooding strikes is to do the following:
For most locations in South Asia, Solace Global would advise clients to employ the minimum of a security trained or fully vetted driver. It may also be advisable to employ a close protection officer, dependent on location. Solace Global would also advise clients to use travel tracking technology alongside an intelligence feed. This enables a traveller to inform others should an emergency occur and allows them to stay updated on any security related incident.
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