Flooding near Key West, Florida, United States from Hurricane Wilma's storm surge in October 2005. (Image Credit: Marc Averette)

Flooding near Key West, Florida, United States from Hurricane Wilma’s storm surge in October 2005. (Image Credit: Marc Averette)

Over the next 15 years, a mix of socioeconomic and climate change factors will almost triple the number of people exposed to flooding risks.

According to the World Resources Institute, some 21 million people worldwide are exposed to river floods every year. As more people move to cities built near rivers and extreme weather events and sea level rise become more frequent, WRI estimates that this figure will increase to 54 million by the year 2030. The cost of flood-related damages is also expected to rise from its current £65 billion to around £340 billion.

The WRI has created a Global Flood Analyzer tool to allow users to interact with their data.

In a blog presenting their data, WRI ranked 164 countries from highest to lowest in terms of risk of river flooding. The Institute found that the top 15 countries “account for nearly 80 percent of the total population affected every year.” In terms of the greatest amount of economic damage from flooding, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Laos are at the top of the chart. The greatest risk to people will be found in India, China, Pakistan and Egypt. The countries of Bangladesh and Vietnam share the dubious honor of being at major risk in both areas.

Graph via WRI

Graph via WRI

“The risks may be escalating, but public and private sector decision makers can do more to prevent catastrophic damage before it happens,” WRI states in the blog post. “Armed with the right information, decision makers can then prioritize risk reduction and climate adaptation projects, and implement the most viable, cost-efficient options.”

Over the next 15 years, climate change is expected to boost the frequency and intensity of river floods throughout the world – wreaking particular havoc in least developed and developing countries.

Last September, flooding from unusually heavy monsoon rains in India and Pakistan was deemed the “costliest catastrophe of 2014,” according to the latest edition of Impact Forecasting’s Global Catastrophe Recap. The floods were responsible for the deaths of over 500 people.

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