News / Asia

Asia Flood Disasters a Warning Signal for City Planners

Residents use makeshift floats as others cross a makeshift bridge built over a flooded road in suburban Pasig, east of Manila, Philippines, August 15, 2012.Residents use makeshift floats as others cross a makeshift bridge built over a flooded road in suburban Pasig, east of Manila, Philippines, August 15, 2012.
x
Residents use makeshift floats as others cross a makeshift bridge built over a flooded road in suburban Pasig, east of Manila, Philippines, August 15, 2012.
Residents use makeshift floats as others cross a makeshift bridge built over a flooded road in suburban Pasig, east of Manila, Philippines, August 15, 2012.
Daniel Schearf
BANGKOK— Recent flooding disasters in Asian capitals are a warning of worse problems to come for city planners.  The Asian Development Bank says rapid urbanization is straining city infrastructure, leading to worse pollution, and putting millions in Asia at risk.  
 
Heavy monsoon rains this month left a third of the Philippine capital, Manila, under water.
 
In July, the Chinese capital, Beijing, saw the worst flooding in 60 years.
 
And last year, the Thai capital, Bangkok, was partly swamped by historic floods that killed over 800 people.
 
Asian Development Bank chief economist Changyong Rhee says although weather-related tragedies are common in Asia, it is not because of bad luck.
 
“This kind of natural disaster, especially flooding in Asia, is a result of the combination of growing risk of global warming and climate changes together with rapid and massive urbanization in Asia without proper infrastructure,” says Rhee.
 
Rhee was speaking to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand for the release of an ADB study titled Green Urbanization in Asia.
 
The ADB says carbon emissions, believed to be a major cause of climate change, grew five times as fast in Asian cities as the world average and are set to triple by 2050.
 
Asia’s booming economic growth, while lifting many out of poverty, is leading millions to move to cities for better jobs.
 
The ADB says Asia is now home to more than half the world’s megacities, those with populations over 10 million, and 60% of global slum dwellers.
 
In 1950, there were only two megacities in the world, New York and Tokyo, but now there are 23, 12 of them in Asia.
 
Rhee says city planners are struggling to keep up with needed infrastructure, creating a growing and vulnerable slum population. 
 
“The bad news is that this vulnerability is more likely to increase with urbanization.  Why? Because with urbanization there will be more people living in urban slums," says Rhee. "They live in a risk area. And, without proper infrastructure, they are subject to this risk.”
 
The ADB says the Asian population vulnerable to inland flooding is expected to reach 350 million by 2025.
 
Those vulnerable to coastal flooding will increase to 400 million.
 
To meet the challenge, the ADB says cities need to focus on alleviating poverty, promoting environmentally friendly planning and technology, and boosting energy efficiency.
 
Rhee says the most important step is building efficient mass transit systems to reduce dependence on pollution-heavy fossil fuels.
 
He says the emergence of satellite cities near Asian megacities creates the opportunity to incorporate “green” concepts early on.

You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid