Like most natural disasters worsening due to climate change, flooding is a tricky problem. Climate change itself is a huge issue that no country can solve quickly or alone, which leaves most of us scrambling to deal with the consequences of an unpredictable climate.
But we’re sure of one thing: populations with greater inequality tend to be more vulnerable to disasters. Dealing with this inequality is the best place to start.
And this applies across many levels.
Governments need to better understand how disasters, inequality, and poverty reinforce one another. Disasters affect different population groups differently, and understanding this makes it easier to invest more in opportunities and the social protection of poorer, more vulnerable communities.
These government investments will allow people better access to education, healthcare, social, and infrastructural services. Digital identities, especially for those who lack formal identification records, will also grant them access to many public services, including social welfare programmes for people at risk of natural disasters.
Compared to the losses from disasters each year, these spendings are small.
The Asia-Pacific region gets the consequences of inequality. We’ve taken a first step with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Leaders and communities here have something valuable—we’ve ample experience dealing with natural disasters. This makes regional cooperation efforts such as the Asia-Pacific Disaster Resilience Network vital.
Other organizations are working on solutions that could benefit all, regardless of income levels.
The World Bank and the World Resources Institute are working on nature-based solutions such as natural habitat restoration, building absorbent urban foundations, and creating sponge cities. The Stimson Center has also launched its climate and ocean risk vulnerability index (CORVI) tool, to get usable and actionable data into decision makers’ hands.
However, even till today, the goals set for reducing inequality still require some work to reach. With a pandemic thrown into the mix, ramping up these efforts is essential.