A study warned that people are increasingly settling in flood-prone areas

Jun Rentschler, an economist at the World Bank, prepared a report that warned of a population increase in areas with a higher risk of flooding. Currently, nearly 76,400 square kilometers of human settlement areas are facing floods of more than 50 centimeters.

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Since 1985, the growth of urbanization in flood-prone areas has exceeded that of safe areas. The report published in the journal Nature analyzed 30 years of satellite images to monitor the evolution of human settlements in the world and investigated the places most exposed to flood risks, a trend especially visible in China.

“At a time when human settlements should adapt to climate change, many countries are rapidly increasing their exposure to floods,” Jun, the author of the study, explained to the AFP agency.

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The document revealed that, in 2015, 20% of inhabited areas were in areas exposed to medium or high flood risks, compared to 17.9% three decades earlier. While the percentage increase may seem modest, these figures represent a huge area given how quickly the world’s population has increased since 1985.

According to the economist, nearly 76,400 km2 of human settlement areas, practically the same size as the province of Entre Ríos, are now facing floods of more than 50 cm.

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“These expanding settlements in high-risk areas imply exposure to flooding as well as future losses and create the need to invest in flood protection,” warned the article published in Nature.

Rentschler specified that countries in East Asia and the Pacific are among the most exposed regions due to urban expansion in China, Vietnam and Bangladesh. “In Vietnam, where almost a third of the coast is built, the safest and most productive places are increasingly occupied,” the author explained.

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“In this way, new developments are disproportionately forced to take place in dangerous terrain and areas that were previously avoided, such as riverbeds or floodplains,” concluded Jun Rentschler, an economist at the World Bank.

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