BHUBANESWAR: A new research analysis of Odisha’s vulnerability to floods and cyclones has revealed that noncoastal districts are as much susceptible to the vagaries of nature as their coastal counterparts in the State.
If five coastal districts feature among 10 most vulnerable districts, the report states that five southern and western districts are on the list as they are equally, if not more, vulnerable to these two natural calamities which have been haunting the State for centuries.
Geographic location of the vulnerable area and frequency of the disasters such as floods and cyclones are not the only indicators taken into consideration for the assessment which adopts a refreshing change in the methodology and approach by including factors such as variability of climate parameters (intensity) as well as how these extreme weathers affect the socio-economic spheres of life.
Importantly, human development indices (HDI) of districts are used as parameters to determine major factors of vulnerability which means a backward tribal district is more vulnerable compared to a socio- economically stronger district since the loss of crops, livelihood and outbreak of disease leave deeper impact on the poor population.
The paper by Chandra Sekhar Bahinipati of Ahmedabad- based Gujarat Institute of Development Research says that Balasore, Kendrapara, Jajpur, Bhadrak, Nabarangpur, Rayagada, Nuapada, Malkangiri, Kalahandi and Puri are most vulnerable to floods and cyclones given their exposure to the calamities, sensitivity and adaptive capacity or mitigation mechanism- the three parameters on which the report has calculated the vulnerability index for all 30 districts.
All the top eight districts have a vulnerability score of more than 0.5. Out of them, four are non-coastal. Most of the non-coastal districts have less exposure to calamities but they are highly sensitive and have low adaptive capacity which makes them more vulnerable, the report says. Contrary to traditional research assessments which put coastal districts as more prone to risk and impact, the paper says districts such as Jagatsinghpur, Puri and Ganjam have high exposure to calamity but less vulnerable. For, these districts are less sensitive and have high adaptive capacity.
“While calculating the correlation of various parameters, it is revealed that exposure, demography, agriculture and economic capacity are major drivers of vulnerability,” the report says.
As the assessment reveals that some non-coastal districts are highly vulnerable compared to noncoastal districts, the disaster reduction programme of the State should cover them, it points out.
Since factors like sensitivity and adaptive capacity drive vulnerability and components like demography, agriculture and economic capacity cause increasing vulnerability, these should be made part of the disaster management policy, says the report which appears in the latest edition of Current Science journal.