A transboundary monsoon (across countries sharing a common border) represents shared vulnerabilities and risks and hence adaptation measures must include integration of the climate change scenarios with a ‘nexus’ approach, says Sanjay Srivastava, Chief, Disaster Risk Reduction at UN-ESCAP.

The latest Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) shared by countries bring forth a water-energy-food nexus approach. Resilient agricultural land use, water-resilient infrastructure, and nature-based solutions are key components of the nexus approach, Srivastava told  BusinessLine in the context of the fallout from a horrendous monsoon in Pakistan.

Monsoon on a warming planet

Taking anticipatory steps to safeguard food, water, energy, and livelihoods is a key challenge. A comprehensive risk management approach is a critical means to make food systems, especially agri-food production, more resilient. This will result in transformative adaptation and resilience to riskier monsoon seasons on a warming planet, he noted.

More than 1,500 people were killed and 33 million others were impacted in one of Pakistan’s worst monsoon seasons in over a decade. The Pakistan Meteorological Department reported that the national rainfall was 243 per cent above average, while Balochistan and Sindh provinces registered +590 per cent and +726 per cent excess precipitation in August.

Buffaloes pass in front of a gas station amid flood water on the Indus highway, following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Sehwan, Pakistan September 13, 2022. REUTERS

Buffaloes pass in front of a gas station amid flood water on the Indus highway, following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Sehwan, Pakistan September 13, 2022. REUTERS

An ESCAP analysis indicates temperature increases of 1.5°C and 2°C will bring the highest impact of heavy precipitation to South Asia, followed by agricultural drought and hot temperatures/heatwaves.

Climate crisis hotspot

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had remarked that the Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids — the relentless impact of epochal levels of rain and flooding  as floods submerged much of the country.

In a recent video message, he called South Asia a ‘climate crisis hotspot’ where people were 15 times more likely to lose their lives due to climate change impacts.

Tackling riskier monsoons

The Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2019 estimates the annualised disaster losses to be up to $675 billion, nearly 85 per cent of which are caused due to monsoon-related droughts, floods, and tropical cyclones. The Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2021 highlights that adding biological hazards to the disaster risk scape increases current annual average losses to $780 billion.

Under a worst-case climate scenario, annualised losses will double to $1.4 trillion or 4.2 per cent of regional GDP. Therefore, the key to developing resilient communities in South Asia is to effectively tackle the impending riskier monsoon seasons, Srivastava says.

social-fb COMMENT NOW