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Disasters compounded and cascaded in 2022

Asia-Pacific (APAC), world's most disaster-prone region, experienced major disasters in 2022 with floods being the deadliest accounting for 74.4% of disaster events in the region and 88.4% of total deaths globally.

The disasters ranged from floods in Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Thailand, drought in China, Kiribati and Tuvalu, typhoons in the Philippines, heatwaves in India, Japan and Pakistan and earthquakes in Afghanistan, Fiji and Indonesia.

According to a new assessment report by the Bangkok-based UN-ESCAP these events provide insights on the major drivers and bring forth a few action points.

The 2022 Pakistan floods affected 33m people and caused 1,739 deaths. The World Weather Attribution study released in September 2022 showed ‘fingerprints’ of climate change on this extreme monsoon rainfall in Pakistan. Bangladesh and India also experienced floods in 2022 which affected 7.2m and 1.3m people respectively.

In 2022, India and Pakistan recorded their warmest ever March and April. The pre-monsoon period in South Asia is usually marked with excessively high temperatures, especially in May, but scientists believe that the early heatwaves were a consequence of persisting north-south low-pressure patterns which formed over India during winter when La Niña phenomenon occurs in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

Indonesia, which sits on the ‘Ring of Fire,’ witnessed a deadly earthquake claiming over 330 lives in November 2022. Afghanistan, located on the Alpide belt, the second most seismically active region in the world after the Pacific Ring of Fire, was impacted by an earthquake in June 2022 with over 1,000 deaths.

In the case of compounding risk, simultaneous hazard events took place followed by their respective or combined impacts. As Afghanistan was already simultaneously struggling with perennial conflicts, pandemic and disasters, the June earthquake led to a number of impacts and resulted in a substantially accumulated residual impact, which then became further multiplied when unseasonal rainfall and floods arrived shortly afterward.

The year 2022 also witnessed cascading disasters where a chain of hazard events took place followed by the initial and residual impacts. Pakistan witnessed melting glaciers from the record spring heat and this combined with an unprecedented monsoon rain resulted in a historic flooding that devastated a large part of the country. It was a unique example of cascading disasters where a heat wave triggered the melting of glaciers and the event converged with a large scale monsoon resulting in drawn out flooding and attendant water-borne diseases.



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