India takes Sendai on board

The severe weather in Tamil Nadu, India, has prevented 10,000 fishermen from heading to sea for four days badly hitting local livelihoods. (Photo: Vinoth Chandar)
By Andy McElroy

Delhi, 19 November 2015 - A senior disaster management advisor to the Prime Minister of India believes the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 will help guide the country as it faces up to more frequent occurrences of extreme weather.

Mr Kamal Kishore, one of four Members appointed by the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, to India's National Disaster Management Authority, said the Sendai Framework's strong focus on avoiding the creation of new risk was a significant step forward.

"One of the key areas of the Sendai Framework - and what is new from the previous Hyogo Framework for Action - is this highlighting of the need to stop the creation of new risks and what we can see now (in terms of the heavy rain and floods in the south of India) is exactly that," he said.

"We need to look at Sendai's call for a more risk sensitive approach to infrastructure investment not just in terms of specific locations but across whole geographic areas so that risks are not created downstream."

Extreme weather conditions have become a reality for many of India's 1.252 billion population, including people in the south of the country who are recovering this week from devastating rains and floods just months after a deadly summer heatwave.

Torrential downpours - the heaviest in a decade – have caused the deaths of 70 people in coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Boats plied main thoroughfares as more than 5,300 people were rescued and 34,000 people were moved to safer locations and relief camps.

Local media reports said that 10,000 fishermen were unable to venture out to sea for more than four days dealing a severe blow to their livelihoods.

In an interview with the Hindustan Times, the Chief of the India Meteorological Department, Mr Laxman Singh Rathore, said the emerging weather patterns "fit the larger picture of climate change predicted by Indian scientists as well as global reports".

"I don't think there is any climate change denial now. There's general agreement after the UN's assessment report 5, which has increased confidence in what's happening. This is borne out by Indian scientists too," Mr Rathore told the newspaper. He was referring to the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the most authoritative source of the latest science on climate.

In the interview, Mr Rathore quoted a report from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, authored by climatologist R. Krishnan which concluded: "Although the frequency of extreme rainfall events has increased in certain parts of the country, it is the decreasing trend in moderate to heavy monsoon rainfall events that pose an enormous long-term concern for one of the most densely populated regions of the world that heavily depends on monsoonal rains."

Currently, almost half of the districts in India - 302 out of 676 - are reporting below average rainfall. Among the worst-hit states are Karnataka (27 out of 30 districts); Madhya Pradesh (41 out of 51); Maharashtra (20 out of 36); and Andhra Pradesh (7 out of 13).

Despite the floods in Tamil Nadu, this year is on course to be classified as a drought year, as was 2014. The drought classification is applied in India when the annual rainfall recorded is less than 90% of the Long Period Average (1951-2000) of 89cm.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) is due to begin in Paris on 30 November.
The Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction 2018, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 3-6 July 2018 The Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction 2018, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 3-6 July 2018.
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