Assam needs to control its climate

The floods in Assam have, on last count, affected 5.5 million people across 32 districts. The extreme rainfall can be attributed to warming temperatures. Adverse impacts of climate change-induced extreme weather have been exacerbated by deforestation, unregulated or poorly regulated construction, hill-cutting and riverbed mining, all prevalent in the eastern state. It is imperative that both central and state governments mainstream climate-change impacts in their development and economic choices.

Governments must step up efforts to reduce and regulate emissions from human activities, increase programmes to help people adapt to climate impacts, improve resilience, and implement robust disaster management and recovery plans. Improving governance structures is critical to minimising and mitigating climate impacts. Rainfall in the pre-monsoon March-May period this year was 62% above normal and 109% excess in the first 12 days of June.

The sustained pre-monsoon extreme rainfall tested the capacity of the Assam administration, which was unable to provide adequate support as only 7% of districts had updated disaster management plans. Flows of disaster-related relief and recovery have to improve. The Assam government, with central support, must implement policy geared to reduce and mitigate human activities that increase vulnerability without adversely impacting livelihoods. It must implement plans to help populations adapt to the climate impacts, such as better river and overflow management. Nearly 300 embankments across 20 districts were breached resulting in the flooding of some 6,000 villages in Assam. Without proper planning, sustained economic and non-economic losses will mount, undermining development gains and human well-being.


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