"World Risk Report 2019, Focus: Water Supply"

BERLIN, Germany

2019's "World Risk Report" identifies water shortages as posing a growing risk to global stability. Securing access to clean water and protection against flooding and tsunamis is critical to safeguarding society against the effects of climate change, according to the Report published this week by the Institute of International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict at the University of Bochum, Germany.

The "World Risk Report, Focus: Water Supply" says that "Record breaking high temperatures, globally, and more frequent and intense droughts have exacerbated water supply problems. These climate-change realities have increased the vulnerability of societies. Extreme natural events and the effects of climate change intensify water-related problems as they push long-established water supply processes to their limits".

Published since 2011 the World Risk Report examines the links between natural events, climate change, development and preparedness at a global level and draws future-oriented conclusions regarding relief measures, policies and reporting.

Published within the report is the World Risk Index that measures a country’s exposure to extreme natural events as well as its societal vulnerability. Overall, according to the World Risk Index, the disaster risk “hotspots” are located in lesser-developed countries and in the Pacific Ocean, Southeast Asia, Central America and the Caribbean, and West and Central Africa. Europe has the lowest disaster risk.

The report contends that the risk of a natural event turning into a disaster only partly depends on the force of the natural event itself. The more fragile the infrastructure network, the greater the extent of extreme poverty and inequality and the worse the access to the public health system, the more susceptible a society is to natural events.

The analysis suggests that countries can reduce disaster risk by fighting poverty and hunger, strengthening education and health, and taking preparedness measures.

Peter Mucke, CEO of Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft, stated: “In developing countries in particular, policymakers need to act urgently and give all households safe access to clean water. After extreme natural events, the water supply must be restored quickly to ensure survival and prevent the spread of diseases.” People living in poverty are especially unlikely to have access to clean water inside their household and can be forced to pay fees at public water points. “Often the poorest people have to pay the most for water,” says Mucke.

With its focus on water supply, a conclusion of the report is that the international community faces major challenges in meeting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, a guarantee of universal access to clean and affordable water by 2030.

The World Risk Index

This World Risk Index calculates the risk of disaster in consequence of extreme natural events for 180 of the world’s countries. It is calculated on a country-by-country basis through the multiplication of exposure and vulnerability. “Exposure” means threats to populations and other certain protected entities due to earthquakes, cyclones, floods, droughts and sea-level rise. “Vulnerability” is comprised of three components, which are weighted equally in the calculation:

  • Susceptibility: the likelihood of suffering from harm in an extreme natural event.
  • Coping: ability of a society to minimize negative impacts of natural hazards and climate change through direct action and the resources available.
  • Adaptation: the long term strategy to deal with and address the negative impacts of a natural hazard and climate change.
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