Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction: An Asian Perspective: Volume 5


Table of contents

(28 chapters)
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List of Editors

Pages xiii-xiv
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Pages xix-xx
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Climate change is happening; it is within primary focus and attention. Over years, the importance of climate change adaptation (CCA) has increased, and for many countries, it is becoming one of the prime targets. Climate change impacts are visible in the form of disasters, which have added to this importance. In contrast, the disaster risk reduction (DRR) field is more submissive and has had less attention so far. However, due to recent major disasters in different parts of the world, media and public attention is high. The news becomes more intense when we observe unpredictable rainfall, heat waves, drought, typhoons, or other climate-related disasters. The intensity and frequency of natural disasters are showing an increasing trend.

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges to development. Intergovernmental Committee in response to Climate Change (IPCC, 2007), with majority agreement, has pointed out that climate change is caused by human activities. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also pointed out that these serious impacts by climate change will directly affect the poorer and more vulnerable communities and nations. According to the Human Development Report 2007–2008 by United Nation Development Program (UNDP, 2008), people in rural areas are most vulnerable to climate change, because it directly affects the resources in the ecosystem on which their lives depend. Countries with newly developed economy will be seriously hit, economically and socially, within the next few decades by natural disasters such as flood, draught, and storm, which have been increasing in number and severity. Human health is also adversely affected, which has multiplying effects in different sectors.

Living with physical hazards is an everyday issue for the people of Bangladesh because different seasons bring different kinds of uncertainties. Sometimes traditional knowledge and practices (Alam, 2007) help them to adjust to these conditions; in some occasions, these hazards turn into catastrophic disasters causing deaths and bringing unbearable damages in different sectors. In addition to the tangible damages incurred due to hazards, in most of the cases, these hazards injure the internal social organizations at different levels (for example, household, community, and institutional) and affect their assets. Thus, the community resilience is greatly weakened, which makes people susceptible to upcoming hazards. Scientists suggest that climate change-induced threats and uncertainties in the forms of erratic rainfall patterns that result in drought conditions and sometimes floods, abnormal foggy conditions, change in the wind direction and the characteristic patterns of seasons, anomalies in the temperature regimes, and the occurrence of cyclones will bring new dimensions to existing situations. These natural hazards, temperature rises, and sea level rise–induced inundations will contribute to the breakdown of the traditional systems of living; they also bring change in topographical factors (for example, flooding), biophysical factors (changes in the crop yields, runoff, risks of the spread of infectious diseases, changes in the vegetation pattern), and socioeconomic factors (per capital income, health, education, population density) (World Bank, 2001).

Many people as well as the government in Bangladesh perceive floods and cyclones as recurrent environmental hazards in the country. They also view that these two hazards are the main contributors to crop loss in the country. But, in reality, droughts afflict the country at least as frequently as do major floods and cyclones, averaging about once in 2.5 years (Adnan, 1993, p. 1; Erickson, 1993, p. 5; Hossain 1990, p. 33). In some years, droughts not only cause a greater damage to crops than floods or cyclones, but they also generally affect more farmers across a wider area (Paul, 1995). If not institutionally and economically tackled, the consequences tend to have a far-reaching effect on the given society, and the socioeconomic problems would assume a chronic pattern.

The kingdom of Cambodia is located in mainland Southeast Asia, between latitudes 10° and 15′ N and longitudes 102° and 108′ E. Cambodia covers an area of 181,035km2 and is divided into 21 provinces. It is bordered to the north by Thailand and Laos, to the east and south by Vietnam, and to the south and southwest by the Gulf of Thailand. Most of Cambodia's land is relatively flat with vast tracts of land given over to rice production. Other areas of Cambodia are mountainous, including the Dangrek, Cardamom, and Elephant mountain ranges (Kingdom of Cambodia, 2001).

Over the past decades, changes in climate have been commonly observed in many parts of the world. It is apparent that changes in temperature and rainfall and resulting increases in frequency and intensity of flood and drought events have affected ecological and social systems on the earth. According to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warming atmosphere of the climate system is now unequivocal (IPCC, 2007). Climate change poses significant risks to the livelihoods, culture, and health of millions of people (Barnett, 2003). Ecological and climatic disasters – hurricanes, tornadoes, draught, flooding, landslides – are becoming more frequent, resulting in devastation to family and communities, especially the poor living in precarious environments (Ogata & Sen, 2003). Related to this, the number of climate-led disaster events and affected populations has been increasing during the last decades according to the data from EM-DAT (2010).

Japan is an island arc that sits in the monsoon region, and is under the influence of warm and moist air masses in summer and cool air masses in winter. The moisture that is taken in the lower leaves of the air masses over the sea is poured on the country by typhoons in summer, by snowfall in winter, by the “Bai-u Front” (in Japanese) in June and July, and by depressions and fronts in all seasons. Owing to Japan's slender shape and complicated landform, aerial differences in climate are great. Japan is located on the eastern edge of the monsoonal region of Asia, and its climate varies according to seasonal and regional conditions. Typically, heavy rains occur in various parts of the country, both during the rainy season in June and July and during the typhoon season from August to October. This precipitation is predominantly in the form of locally specific temporary downpours. In winter, the northern part of the country usually receives heavy snowfall that causes prolonged floods in spring from the melting of snow. The average amount of precipitation is 1,800mm (70 inches) a year. This is two or three times the amount received in other areas of the same latitude. In the southern Pacific coast areas, rainfall amounts to 4,000mm (160 inches). Precipitation in Tokyo is twice as much as other large cities in western countries. Some 50–60% of the annual precipitation in the Pacific coast of Japan is concentrated from June to October. Artificial changes in natural environments are rapid and large, accompanying the great increase in economic activity and exploitation (Nakano, Kadomura, Mizutani, Okuda, & Sekiguchi, 1974). Although the country's 10% of land area is flood prone, about 50% of the population lives in floodplains and almost 75% of the property is concentrated in the floodplains (JWF, 2006).

According to a report by Food and Agriculture Organization, total forest area in the world as of 2005 is estimated at 3,952 million hectares (9,766 acres) or 30 percent of total land area (FAO, 2005a). The area of forest is unevenly distributed (FAO, 2005b). At the regional level, South America is the region with the highest percentage of forest cover, followed by Europe and North and Central America. Asia is the region with the lowest percentage of forest cover (FAO, 2005c). The forest environments are changing globally. Climate change is one of the reasons, and it affects world forest management. More attention has been devoted to timber as the major commercial aspect of forests rather than to other noncommercial resource values (Barnard et al., 1985). The purpose of forest management was once as simple as taking timbers, but it is now more complicated. When the forest environments change, the key trends of world forest management must also change. Now, generally speaking, the extent of forest resources refers to an overall maintaining of adequate forest cover and stocking of various forest types and characteristics, and the ultimate aim of monitoring the extent and characteristics of forest resources is to reduce unplanned deforestation, restore and rehabilitate degraded forest landscapes, manage forests sustainably, and evaluate the important function of carbon sequestration by forests, other wooded land, and trees outside forests, thereby contributing to moderating the global climate (FAO, 2005d).

Since independence, Malaysia has generally registered continuous economic growth and this development has brought about numerous benefits including improved social amenities and a trend toward greater urbanization of the population. Economic development in Malaysia has contributed to environmental degradation and uncontrolled physical development, especially in the urban areas. Protection of the environment has become a necessity rather than a luxury in order to maintain public health and well-being as well as to sustain the economic growth. As in most developing countries, there are many challenges facing the country, especially so in urban areas, where the human, physicochemical and biological environments are interlinked (Pereira & Komoo, 2004). One major challenge is the increasing occurrence of geological and flood-related disasters, causing property damage and high cost of maintenance as well as loss of lives, in extreme cases. In part, this is a manifestation of poor planning, and many of the problems related to hazards in urban areas are often exacerbated by human activities.

Three years ago, Naina Shahi's husband left their small village in rural Nepal to seek work in neighboring India, leaving her to bring up their three children alone. The dry winters and unpredictable monsoons Nepal has experienced in recent years had hit crop production on the couple's land plot in the foothills of the Himalayas, forcing them to look for other ways to feed their family (A report in September 4, 2009 issue of Republica; Cozens (2009)).

Pakistan lies between latitudes 24° 37′ N and longitudes 62° 75′ E, covering a total land area of 796,096km2. The country shares its borders with Iran to the west, India in the southeast, Afghanistan in the northwest, and China in the north. The Arabian Sea lies to its south (UNISDR, 2005; Khan, 2004d). The country has four provinces: the Punjab, the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Sindh, Baluchistan, and two federally administrated territories – the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Northern Areas. The Northern Areas have been recently given the status of Gilgit-Baltistan province. The structure of the provisional government is still in its formation stage. In addition, the territory of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) is under the administration of the government of Pakistan. Each province or territory is further divided into administrative units known as districts (GOP, 2003; Khan, 2004d).

The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world as far as climate-related and other forms of disasters (e.g., earthquake and volcanic eruption) are concerned (World Bank and NDCC, 2004; UNISDR, 2008a, 2008b). In 2004 alone, 25 weather disturbances hit the country, of which four occurred successively in November and the first week of December. These triggered massive landslides and flooding in Southern and Central Luzon, leading to damages in lives and properties (Duque, 2005). With this the country is considered as one of the most disaster prone, ranking 12th among the 200 countries most at risk to natural hazards in the 2009 Mortality Risk Index of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR, 2009).

Compelling evidence in recent decades confirms that climate change is already happening as demonstrated by increasing mean temperature, changing precipitation patterns, rising sea level, and increasing frequency and growing intensity of extreme weather events in Asia. Regional climate studies have shown and projected that the worse is yet to come. According to the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), Asia registered the highest number of hydrometeorological disasters at 1,532 occurrences in the period 1991–2005 among all regions in the world.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007) of 2007 concluded that most of the warming of the climate is very likely driven by human activities that increase greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere. Activities such as burning of fossil fuels for power generation and in vehicles, as well as increasing deforestation, result in emissions of four long-lived GHGs: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and halocarbons (a group of gases containing fluorine, chlorine, or bromine). The report projects that by the end of the 21st century global temperatures could rise by 1.1–6.4°C over 1990 levels, while global mean sea levels could rise by 18–59cm, depending on future scenarios of varying global emission levels. This is likely to adversely impact ecosystem resilience, putting many plant and animal species at the risk of extinction. Sea level rise and coastal erosion coupled with temperature extremes, heat waves, and heavy precipitation events that are projected to become more frequent will affect the health and well-being of millions of people around the world.

Throughout the world, at one period or another in its history, it has been the practice to cultivate tree species and agricultural crops in intimate combination in most of the countries. The history of cultivating trees and crops in home gardens, social tree planting, protecting and managing forests, appreciating wildlife, and sustaining the beauties of nature in Sri Lanka go back to more than about 25 centuries. In chronicles, there are some references on social tree planting practices, and home gardens planted with flowering and fruit-bearing trees in Sri Lanka. Because of the traditions, influencing factors of the existing environment, and nature of agroforestry, the numerous examples of agroforestry practices are found in all agro climatic and ecological zones of Sri Lanka. Today, the traditional knowledge of agroforestry is being developed and expanded with the objective of improving living standards, especially the rural communities in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is an island described as a “pearl” situated between latitudes 5.55° 9.51′ N and longitude 79.41° 81.54′ E in the Indian Ocean. It has a coastline of 1,585km (Coast Conservation Department [CCD], 1986a, 1986b). From the coastline, the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) extends 200 nautical miles. This is 6.7 times the country's land area, occupying 437,400km2. Coastal waters extend from the continental shelf to the other limits of the EEZ. The coastal area forms a dynamic interface of land and water and is of special significance in the country's economical, ecological, and social fabric. Thus, a “coastal zone” has been defined where activities are regulated by the government (Coast Conservation Act of Sri Lanka [CCD], 1981). Sri Lanka's coastal zone is defined in the Coast Conservation Act as the area lying within a limit of 300m landward of the mean high waterline and, in the case of rivers, streams, lagoons, or any other body of water connected to the sea, either permanently or periodically, the landward boundary shall extend to a limit of 2km perpendicular to the strait baseline drawn between the natural entrance points thereof and shall include waters of such water bodies.

Taiwan is located between the world's largest landmass, the continent of Asia, and its largest ocean, the Pacific Ocean. The Tropic of Cancer passes through the island of Taiwan, giving it a subtropical and tropical oceanic climate. High temperatures and rainfall and strong winds characterize the climate. Because of Taiwan's position in the Asian monsoon region, its climate is greatly influenced by monsoons as well as by its own complicated topography. The annual mean temperatures in the lowlands are 22–25°C, and the monthly mean temperature exceeds 20°C for eight months starting with April each year. The period from June to August is the hottest season with mean temperatures of 27–29°C. Temperatures are cooler between November and March; in most places, the coldest monthly mean temperature is above 15°C. The climate is mild rather than cold and temperatures only fall dramatically when a cold front affects the region. Average annual rainfall in the lowlands of Taiwan is in the range of 1,600–2,500mm. Due to the influences of topography and the monsoon climate, the rainfall differs greatly with different areas and seasons. In mountainous areas, average rainfall may exceed 4,000mm/yr. Rainfall is generally higher in mountainous areas than in lowland areas, higher in the east than in the west, and higher on windward slopes than on the leeward side. The northeast monsoon prevails during the winter; this is the rainy season in the north though rainfall is not intense. But the same winter period is the dry season in the south. During the summer, the southwest monsoon prevails, often giving rise to convective thunderstorms and bringing intense and copious rainfall. With added downpours brought by typhoons, this season often accounts for over 50% of annual rainfall in the south so that central and southern regions often suffer greatly. Relative humidity on the island of Taiwan, surrounded by ocean, is high, usually measuring in the range of 78–85%. In the north, relative humidity is higher during winter than during summer. The situation in the south is the opposite. Over the past 100 years, the rainfall in the north has increased, while the rainfall in the south has decreased. The trend is not as consistent as that of the temperature change (Environmental Protection Administration, Executive Yuan, R.O.C. (Taiwan), 2002).

In Thailand, as in many other developing countries, a significant and coherent policy response to the challenges posed by climate change is just beginning to emerge. The initial emphasis was on meeting international reporting obligations and building a better understanding of the issues (OEPP, 2000). Most climate policy attention has focused on mitigation, in particular of the difficulties, and occasionally taking advantage of the opportunities, in decoupling growth in greenhouse gas emissions from social and economic development. While early concerns were expressed about impacts on water resources and agriculture, not much attention has been given to implementing specific adaptation measures.

Vietnam is a stretch of land strengthening along Indochinese peninsula, which is located in Southeast Asia. Vietnam's mainland stretches from 23023′ to 08002′ north latitude and widens from 102008′ to 109028′ east longitude. Length counted in straight line from north to south stays at about 1,650km, width from west to east maximizes at 600km and minimizes at 50km. Entire territory of Vietnam includes 331,112km2 of mainland and 1 million square kilometers of territorial sea. Currently, Vietnam enjoys 63 provinces, central cities with 622 administrative units of districts and cities and 10,511 administrative units of communes and wards.

A review of the existing literature on disasters, impact, local vulnerability, and adaptation indicates to the fact that recent increasing frequency of natural disasters (e.g., floods, storms, and drought) have increasingly caused impacts on a diverse set of physical and biological systems, especially for those living in the developing countries where their livelihood strategies rely on natural resources (McCarthy, Canziani, Leary, Dokken, & White, 2001; Selvaraju, Subbiah, Baas, & Juergens, 2006; Kumar, 2007; Cruz et al., 2007).

Over the last decades, there has been an increasing interest among scientists on the linkage between population health and climate and environmental factors, as well as health impacts of climate change and climate variability. Numerous studies have been done and substantial results achieved, but mostly in the developed countries, and not much quantitative evidence or assessment of the impacts at national and local levels has been provided for developing countries.

Climate change is one of the major challenges confronting human society in the 21st century (Ericksen & O’Brein, 2007; Adger, Lorenzoni, & O’Brien, 2009). Mounting evidence attests that climate change is now happening in many parts of the world as evidenced by increasing mean temperature, changing precipitation patterns, rising sea level, and increasing frequency and growing intensity of extreme weather events (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC], 2007). In many parts of Asia, these climatic changes have led to massive flooding, landslides, and droughts, resulting in extensive damage to properties, assets, and human life (Cruz et al., 2007). Climate change is also exacerbating water shortages in many areas, constraining agricultural production, and threatening food security and energy supply from hydroelectric source. It is likewise causing forest fires and degradation, damaging coastal and marine resources, and increasing the risk of outbreaks of infectious diseases. Regional climate studies indicate that the worse is yet to come as far as weather-related disaster risks are concerned. If not addressed effectively, climate change could seriously frustrate the region's sustainable development and poverty-reduction efforts (ADB, 2009).

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Community, Environment and Disaster Risk Management
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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