Since 2008, three times more people had to leave their homes because of natural disasters than due to war or violence. Although tsunamis and volcanic eruptions get more media attention than river floods, it is the latter that forces the most people to relocate. RECEIPT researchers looked into the effect of both climate change and the growing world population on displacement risk caused by river floods.

Displacement risk is the possibility that the water damage cause by flooded rivers is too severe for people to keep living in their houses, forcing them to relocate. Studies show that flood risk will change with the climate crisis, as the water cycle will get disturbed. But it is also predicted that population increases will be important in flood-prone areas. Combining these factors, researchers found that there will be an important increase in flood-induced displacement risk over the coming decades.

By the end of the century, the global average of people being at risk of having to relocate due to river floods is expected to double (+110%). That’s under an optimistic climate change scenario. If we keep “business as usual”, this risk set to increase by 350%! This is the global average, but when facing disasters, we are not all equal. Low-income populations from Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean will be the most exposed.

This research shows that rapid action is needed to reduce future displacement risks. Effective climate mitigation and adaptation such as urban planning can have a substantial impact to manage flood risks.

Want to learn more on the topic? Have a look at the research paper from the RECEIPT team.

Published on : 21 June 2021