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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs