Survey Finds Africa, Asia Cities Most at Risk from Global Climate Change

October 26, 2011

Countries and megacities in Africa and Asia are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change over the coming years, a global survey shows, underscoring the risks from floods, rising sea levels, droughts and storms.

With populations in many developing nations growing quickly, particularly in megacities with 10 million or more people, already creaking infrastructure could be overwhelmed by an increase in deadly disasters.

Following are some of the main findings of the survey by risk analysis and mapping firm Maplecroft. The study can help governments and investors adapt to climate change.

Maplecroft analyzed risks to 193 countries and territories on a national and sub-national basis, meaning some countries might only score a low or medium risk overall but some regions might be a high risk from storms and flooding, such as Miami in the United States.

Indexes rank according to the level of exposure (such as number and type of threats), the capacity of a country or city to adapt, the degree to which an area is already sensitive to disasters (quality of infrastructure, population growth, health and wealth and conflict) and overall vulnerability.

The survey maps the world in 25-sq-km [15.625 mile] segments according to risk.

Haiti tops the global list of countries and territories most at risk, while Iceland is the least at risk.

Overall, of the countries at the highest, or most extreme risk, most are in Africa and Asia.

Bangladesh, with more than 140 million people and large areas of low-lying land, is ranked number 2, followed by Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, Cambodia, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Philippines, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Nepal, Swaziland, Uganda, Lesotho, Gambia, South Sudan, Guatemala and Myanmar.

India is 28; Thailand is 37, China 98 and the United States 160.

The survey looks at the risks facing the 20 fastest growing cities by 2020, many of which are also in countries ranked in the extreme risk category.

Those facing extreme risk are Dhaka, Chittagong, Addis Ababa, Manila, Kolkata and Jakarta.

High risk are Chennai, Mumbai, Kinshasa, Karachi, Lagos, Luanda, Kabul, Lahore, Delhi and Guangzhou, while Khartoum, Shanghai, Beijing and Cairo are medium risk.

(Writing by David Fogarty; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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