Climate Change Triggers Flood Disasters Across the World

Zakat Foundation Launches Flood Fund Campaign

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Heaven and Earth

The Heavenly Books and the prophets that conveyed them all warn of increased natural disasters in the latter times, especially devastating floods. That’s a prophecy climate scientists have long threatened for our own future if we failed to bring down our greenhouse gas emissions and the rising temperatures of the earth they yield. We’ve heeded neither the spiritual nor empirical. Now it seems these formerly far-off days have become our own.

“We’ve seen such a dramatic increase this year in supposedly once-in-a-lifetime floods – in India, Bangladesh, Africa, and the Middle East,” said Halil Demir, Zakat Foundation of America’s executive director. “Torrential rains and rising waters are literally sweeping away the lives of people often already traumatized by conflict, dislocation, drought, disease, and famine – and not either or, but increasingly all of the above.”

When we trace these myriad calamities back to their root causes, he notes, we find a disturbingly familiar face: climate change.

In the world we’ve made for ourselves, it’s become critical to prepare, not for the possibility of random floods in arbitrary places, but for the record-setting deluges that we absolutely know are going to recur with increasing regularity wherever on Earth land meets water and in the ever-expanding low-lying areas we’ve steadily pillaged of their once lush natural vegetation.

It’s now essential for humanitarian organizations to stockpile ongoing emergency flood funds they can quickly convert into dry foods, basic portable shelters, and daily necessities and rapidly transport to the hundreds of millions caught in climate change's widening kill zones and cascading disasters. 

That’s what all the climate science is telling us. We’re on the threshold of a massive increase in excessive rainfalls and water overtaking the shores. 

“It is clear that we need to be prepared to face more intense and more frequent extreme hydro-meteorological events due to climate change,” says Pascal Peduzzi, Director of the United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP) Global Resource Information Database in Geneva.

UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction officials put it more bluntly in their October 13 report, The Human Cost of Disasters: an overview of the last 20 years (2000-2019), released on the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (see at https://www.undrr.org > media > download).

“It is baffling that we willingly and knowingly continue to sow the seeds of our own destruction, despite the science and evidence that we are turning our only home into an uninhabitable hell for millions of people.”

Disaster Pile-Up

Humanity has lived through at least 7,348 disaster events between 2000 and 2019, not including our current COVID-19 pandemic, according to the UN disaster overview. That’s a staggering 75% more than all recorded calamities of the preceding two-decade period, 1980-1999, the report says.

More than 1.23 million mostly poor people paid for humanity’s climate neglect with their lives, up only slightly from the 1.19 million in the previous disaster report period, a testament to strides made in disaster preparedness, including early warning systems, which is why Zakat Foundation is inaugurating its new Climate Change Flood Fund.

Still, failure to stem the causes of global warming simply evaporated a staggering $2.97 trillion from the human economy. That’s nearly twice the cost of the 80s and 90s’ tragedies.

Those lost lives and treasure form the human exchange rate for a 1.1° Celsius rise in average global temperatures in the same time period, due mainly to fossil fuel emissions.

Who would make such a gruesome trade? The leaders of the G20, for one. Their countries now account for about 78% of the earth’s carbon emissions. The razzle dazzle of carbon trading between nations has proved nothing but a shell game.

What does all that heat get us, besides death and destruction? Exactly what the Quran has told us: Yet do they not see that We come to the land and diminish it from its outskirts…and duly swift is His reckoning (Sûrat Al-Ra‘d, 13:41).

Rising Tides

Flooding and storms account for 72% of all the world’s disaster events, torrents that have deluged no place on earth like they have Asia. As shocking as it is sad, this comes as no surprise.

“There's a consistency in the models that climate change in Asia would translate into more floods, into more intense rainy seasons,” Homero Paltan Lopez, a water expert and researcher at the University of Oxford, told the Financial Times .

Asia absorbed 2,068 disasters in the last two decades, the highest number of calamities of any region on earth, and most of them from flooding. China told the greatest amount of any nation, with 577 events. Together with India, at 321 natural catastrophes, that accounts for 2.8 billion people afflicted by climate-driven tragedy in the first two decades of the new century, or 70% of all those struck by disaster, with India alone at an astonishing 1,083 million victims.

Africa reported 1,192 disasters, including flooding, while the Americas together account for the second highest disaster region, with 1,756 events. Nor is the United States immune, accounting for 467 disaster events, second in number only to China.

Ultimately, this translates into 4.2 billion people whose lives extreme weather is now affecting, according to the UN disaster report. That’s 55% of all human beings on earth.

Floods by far tally the most commonly occurring disaster, at 44% of all events. Storms come in at 28%, followed by earthquakes at 9%. Yet storms, which often include rain events, wreak the most economic havoc, costing $1.39 trillion, or 47% of total disaster losses, with flooding accounting for 22%, or $653.4 billion, and earthquakes at 21%, or $623.7 billion.

Already, humanity in the 21st century has endured three mega disasters, defined as events that kill more than 100,000 people. Two of these entailed major flooding and rain events, led by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, at 226,408 deaths and 2008’s Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, third largest calamity, killing 138,366. (The Haiti Earthquake of 2010 saw 222,570 perish.)

Zakat Foundation Flood Fund

Zakat Foundation’s aid workers stand in the forefront of flood relief. As you read this, they distribute hot meals, clothing, shelter, hygiene kits, bedding, and household supplies to the desperate in seven emergency flood zones.

India (including Hyderabad & Rohingya refugees)

Flooding submerged some 1,500 colonies in India, including already displaced and dispossessed Rohingya refugees, now sheltering in schools and function halls.

On May 20, tropical cyclone Amphan razed parts of India and Bangladesh with 130 mph winds, afflicting 60 million Indians, including 95 dead, the evacuation of hundreds of thousands, damaging at least 2.9 million homes, destroying 4.2 million acres of cropland, and killing 2.1 million farm animals. It is the costliest disaster ever to hit India at an about $13.2 billion in ruin.

In Hyderabad Deep Depression BOB 02 unleashed an unprecedented 32 cm of torrential rains causing flash flooding on 13 October that killed at least 81. Four days later, a cyclone hit unleashing more flooding and killing more and striking at least 37,000 family homes. Total rainfall surpassed 4.3 inches in parts of Hyderabad and even more on the city outskirts, destroying crops and causing an estimate $681 million of damage.

These disaster events are worsening an already urgent Covid-19 crisis.

Please send your help to India’s flood-stricken Rohingya, Hyderabad’s families, and farmers.


Karachi, Pakistan (including Afghan refugees)

Monsoon floods have killed at least 400 in Pakistan and damaged more than 200,000 homes. The rains hit Sindh Province, and its capital Karachi, hardest, inundating it with more than 19 inches of rain in August alone. That’s the heaviest rain total since 1931. The rains affected more than 2 million across Sindh Province, including displacing 68,000 into relief camps. Five major rivers flow into the Indus River, which flows north into Pakistan, making it miles wide at points, and it turns dramatically south to Karachi. Excessive rainfall is not the main cause of flooding, however, but rather the increased snowmelt flowing into the rivers from climate change.

Please send your aid to the people of Karachi and Sindh Province, Pakistan

Yemen

The rains began to pour down on Yemen, mostly in the south and east, in April and continued into August. Then in mid-September heavy rains struck again, affecting 96,000 families in 189 districts, killing at least 44. Rains hit Sana’a and Sana’a City particularly hard. Humanitarians already consider Yemen the greatest disaster area in the world, torn apart by more than five years of brutal war, causing famine and the biggest cholera outbreak in recorded history. Now COVID-19 has struck, and the rains keep coming.

Please send your aid to the homeless, starving, and sick in flooded Yemen

Sudan

September in Sudan began with the heaviest rains in memory and the declaration of a three-month state of emergency, with massive flooding of its capital Khartoum and the city of Omdurman. More than 124 have died in the deluge that has affected nearly 830,000. Humanitarian workers have nearly run out of defaulted internationally promised funds, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), with flooding posing “unprecedented challenges,” the world body has said. Hundreds of thousands of homes and countless acres of farmland have been lost to the rising waters. Sudan is battling a confluence of crises, including armed conflict, a COVID-19 surge, and a spike in polio. North and West Darfur, as well as Sennar are also under water. In Khartoum, Sudan’s largest city with a population of 5.3 million, located at the confluence of the White and Blue Niles, from Lakes Victoria and Ethiopia’s Tana, respectively, already has 1.4 million people who are severely food insecure, according to the OCHA.

Please send your aid to the stricken of Sudan

Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s highlands hold the source of the Blue Nile, which has flooded with the heavy seasonal “Kiremt” rains and devastated the surrounding mostly agrarian lands. More than 500,000 people have been affected, with 300,000 displaced since July, especially in the hard-hit Afar region.

Please send your aid to the homeless of Ethiopia

Niger

July rains exposed more than 300,000 near the Niger River, killing 45 and displacing 226,500, according to the government. Some 25,800 homes along the river, mostly mud-made, have collapsed, as well as 64 classrooms and 24 mosques.. Rice fields are completely submerged. The rains have struck hardest in the west, causing the river to overflow its banks, shutting down the capital, Niamey. With climate change “we are never safe from floods,” said Niger’s Prime Minister Brigi Rafini.

Please send your aid to the afflicted of Niger


Central African Republic

Seasonal rains now threaten more than 203,000 people at high risk in Ouham and Kémo. Almost all of CAR’s urban areas are astride its rivers and their watersheds, which puts the livelihoods of nearly all its urban residents at risk. CAR has already endured a decade of conflict, and now COVID-19. At the end of 2019, nearly 100,090 families lost their homes from flooding, which also made their water undrinkable.

Please send your aid to help the people of Central African Republic