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AKIPRESS.COM - Economic losses from weather-related disasters vary from 0.4% to 1.3% of GDP per annum for Tajikistan, World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia Saroj Kumar Jha said.
He calls for climate action in Central Asia.
According to him, Central Asia is already experiencing the impacts of a changing climate, with warmer temperatures; glacier melt; increased variability in water resources; and frequent and costly weather-related hazards. In the recent past, there has been a marked increase in drought conditions over much of Central Asia. This has resulted in serious implications for food security and rural livelihoods. The 2000 drought caused losses to crop and livestock estimated at 4.8 percent and 0.8 percent of GDP in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan alone. More frequent episodes of droughts in Kazakhstan, most recently in 2008, 2010 and 2012, are causing sharp fluctuations in wheat production, which heighten concerns about ensuring food security in the region.
Saroj Kumar Jha notes that river flooding has also become prevalent in the last two decades. Significant damages occurred during the 2005 floods of the Amu Daria and Syr Daria, affecting Tajikistan and southern Kyrgyzstan, as well as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. There are estimates that economic losses from weather-related disasters may reach 1.3% of GDP per annum for also Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Climate change impact is expected to intensify in the coming years. Ageing infrastructure and inefficient water and land management practices are only some of the obstacles that make Central Asia less resilient to climate change. The risks and costs of inaction – demonstrated by the economic and social impacts from climate change absent adaptation – are particularly significant in the sectors of agriculture, energy, and water resources. Taking energy as an example, where year-round, reliable access to electricity is still a concern in the region: climate change will push energy systems to their limits, with impacts on both thermal and hydropower sources, on transmission networks through extreme events, and on demand.
Agriculture stands in the front line too, with severe risk of water scarcity during the growing season that negatively impacts production, food security, and rural livelihoods in a region where population remains 60 percent rural. Although certain areas in Central Asia might experience changes that are beneficial, such as longer growing seasons, winter rainfall, and increased winter temperatures, it is necessary to plan ahead to capture these potential benefits. The Bank’s upcoming Turn Down the Heat III report, to be launched this fall, will look into climate vulnerabilities and development impacts in Central Asia for current, 2C and 4C warming scenarios.
The risks from climate change are well recognized and all countries are taking action. Country level actions include: climate strategies, policies and programs to reduce vulnerability and move towards climate-resilient development. In order to be successful in combating this common enemy, countries also need to collaborate to better address climate-induced impact.