Heavy rainfall has resulted in devastating floods in many parts of Asia over the past few weeks. The countries affected are China, Pakistan, India and Myanmar. Because of its devastating effect on Myanmar, the government has declared a state of emergency in four regions as flood worsens across the country.
Over the past month, heavy monsoon rains have left at least 40 people dead and displaced more than 200,000 others in Myanmar. The ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation says that more than 970,000 acres of farmland, most rice paddy, had been damaged and more than 40,000 acres were completely lost.
Meanwhile, India and Pakistan are still struggling to cope with the massive downpours. Pakistan has a death toll up to 42 with the worst flooding on the southeast of the country where a deepening area of low pressure is said to be feeding torrential rain across Gujarat in northwest India, across the border towards Karachi. India on its part has suffered a widespread of monsoon-triggered flooding with many roads and bridges under water. In Bangladesh, there has been the most staggering rainfall with over 900mm of rain in four days alone compared to a July average of 597mm.
The consequences of the monsoon rains are enormous. Thousands of people have become homeless overnight as they have been evacuated from their submerged homes as a result of the flood. But because several roads and bridges have been destroyed, rescue efforts have suffered a great setback, as authorities and rescuers struggle to reach flood-hit areas due to inaccessibility, raising fears that there could be more deaths than are currently known.
Monsoon, which is a seasonal prevailing wind in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, brings rain between May and September (the wet monsoon) from the southwest, or from the northwest (the dry monsoon). Countries affected by the seasonal monsoons include China, Pakistan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Laos, Vietnam, and India. Continuous rainfall in these areas located north of the Indian Ocean centered near the border between India and Bangladesh has formed a Cyclonic Storm named Komen spreading over the region. The Cyclone Komen has resulted in increasing flooding experienced in Bangladesh, Myanmar and India. The wet weather actually extends from Arabian Sea and beyond Indo-China.
Expectedly, the monsoon rain leaves a lot of disaster in its trail. Besides the loss of life, properties, including government infrastructures are damaged. Several acres of farmlands are equally destroyed and this has direct impact on the economy as the rural population that makes up to two third of the regions work in the agricultural sector. The heavy downpour also means a destruction of crops, which reduces the quantity of harvest as well as income.
In the meantime, what is particularly disturbing is that electricity supply has been cut off in several impoverished townships in the affected countries and the damage could be heavier than local resources can handle.
As scientists admitted, monsoon is hard to predict and whether it is high or low, it comes with a consequence. For instance, if rainfall is below 90 per cent of the average, it is labeled a “Bad Monsoon” because it results in drought/famine. If it exceeds 110 per cent of the average, it becomes an “Excess Monsoon” that would result in flooding. Research says that changes in rainfall in the region could lead to a drop in food production by 50 per cent in the next 30 years and this could affect international food supply.
According to reports, the monsoon influences governments’ spending in South Asia. When the rain is moderate and harvest is huge, governments spend less on public assistance, including welfare and subsidies on fuel. In an excess monsoon year, they spend more on evacuating citizens and providing rescue activities for those affected.
Follow Us on Social Media