The Middle East is no stranger to floods. In recent years, the region has been hit by devastating floods that have killed hundreds of people and caused billions of dollars in damage. Just last month heavy rains caused flash floods that killed migrant workers in the UAE and forced more than 3,800 people to evacuate, damaging homes and critical infrastructure. Also last month, flash flooding in southern Iran killed at least 22 people and left one person missing. The latest flooding in Pakistan which has left over 1,200 people dead should be a wake-up call for the Middle East.
Floods are not uncommon in the Middle East. The number of floods each year varies depending on rainfall, but the average number of floods per year in the region is more than 40. The intensity of floods also varies. Some floods, like those in the UAE in 2014, cause very little damage. But others, like those in Iran in 2012, were devastating. In 2012, floods killed more than 50 people, caused damage of more than $10 billion, and left more than 2 million people homeless. For many years, the Middle East has remained largely oblivious to the effects of climate change. But recent floods prove that the region is extremely vulnerable to climatic change. This means that the Middle East must invest in infrastructure to mitigate the risk of future floods.
In recent years, Middle Eastern countries have suffered billions of dollars in damage from floods. In 2015, heavy rains caused flash floods in Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, killing more than 400 people and causing damage estimated at $28 billion. And in 2012, floods killed more than 50 people, caused damage of more than $10 billion, and left more than 2 million people homeless. Floods not only impose a heavy burden on the Middle East but they also have the potential to kill hundreds of people, cause billions of dollars in damage, and disrupt economic growth.
Investing in infrastructure can help the Middle East combat climate change and reduce the risk of future floods. Building more dams, reservoirs, and lakes can reduce the risk of floods by holding back water. Building stronger flood defences, like river levees and storm surge barriers, can protect people and property from floods. Increasing the use of renewable energy can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and help combat climate change.
Raising funds to invest in infrastructure can be a challenge for many Middle Eastern countries given the current socio-economic challenges following the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. The region is home to many oil producers, which means it has a large portion of sovereign wealth funds. But investing in infrastructure can be a challenge because there are other competing priorities, like paying down debt. Investing in infrastructure can be a challenge for the Middle East. But it can help protect the region from the effects of climate change, create jobs, and boost the economy. Investing in infrastructure can be expensive, but it can help protect the region from the effects of climate change, create jobs, and boost the economy. This should be made a priority at the climate summit Cop27 in Egypt in November, as well as allocating more resources to bolster disaster management strategies.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Zahid Hussein