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  • Researchers pinpoint climate change 'hotspots'


A report looking at probable humanitarian consequences of climate change has identified climate change 'hotspots' around the globe.

The authors mapped specific hazards associated with climate change, focusing on floods, cyclones and droughts.

The report, commissioned by CARE International and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), identifies Afghanistan, India, Indonesia and Pakistan as countries particularly vulnerable to extreme weather conditions.

Three regions — Africa, Central and South Asia, and Southeast Asia — are identified as having the highest levels of human vulnerability to hazards over the next two to three decades. In Africa, Central Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Sahel are at risk, while Afghanistan, the Caspian region, India, Iran and Pakistan are marked in Central and South Asia. Indonesia, Laos and Myanmar are identified as hotspots in the Southeast Asian region.

The intensity, frequency, duration and extent of weather-related hazards will increase without a radical shift in location, according to the report. But vulnerable populations will have a low capacity to cope with extreme weather events, making the increase an extensive threat, the report points out.

And there is a growing gap between countries that have invested in disaster preparedness and those that have not, the report adds.

''Although the number of hazardous events will increase, there is no rule that there will be a corresponding rise in disasters,'' says Charles Ehrhart, climate change coordinator of CARE International and one of the authors of the report.

He told SciDev.Net that the level of damage depends on how communities act when faced with a hazard and adds that policymakers and humanitarian actors need to work on reducing the disasters that can occur after hazardous events.

Ehrhart says that the humanitarian community has to take an active part in policy debates on climate change, as they are important stakeholders.

This report calls on policymakers to improve services such as health and education in climate change hotspots, in order to boost the population's resilience to hazardous events.

According to the report, most effective interventions include strengthening the response capacity of local actors, increasing the local population's role in disaster preparedness and providing essential services and social protection systems for vulnerable populations.

It also warns against quick humanitarian fixes and urges that rebuilding activities after disasters do not leave communities more vulnerable than they were before.

The launch of the report coincided with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Accra, Ghana last week (21–27 August).

Link to full report [1.69MB]

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