India, Bangladesh will host 28% of people most at risk from floods by 2050

Floods sparked by intense monsoon rains have ravaged parts of Bangladesh and Northeast India in recent weeks. More than 100 people have died as a result of the flooding, with a further four million stranded without access to adequate food or drinking water.

The crisis underscores the rising threat posed by natural disasters, including floods and cyclones, as the climate becomes increasingly volatile. Densely populated low-lying areas, like parts of India and Bangladesh, are among those on the global frontline.

Our Flood Hazard data - which uses geospatial analysis to quantify the physical threat posed by riverine flooding – shows that India and Bangladesh will account for 28% of the global population affected by floods in 2050, up from 23% today. A third of Bangladesh’s projected 194 million population are set to be at risk – some 64 million people. In India this stands at 15%, or 252m out of a projected 1.7bn.

The data measures risk across more than 3,285 states and administrative regions globally. Zooming in at this level shows us that the two countries will account for nine of the 10 global sub-regions with the largest increase in people affected by flooding annually. This includes Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar – India’s most populous states - as well as Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh. Pakistan’s Punjab comes in at third, with an additional 19.8m people exposed to floods by 2050.

Intense rains and more frequent flooding will have a profound impact not just on human lives, but on economies too. "Submerged crops, shuttered factories and compromised transport networks will be felt in both local and global supply chains as disruption drives up prices and limits the availability of goods," says Rory Clisby, Senior Analyst for Climate and Resilience.

As extreme weather events become more common, organisations that put environmental risk at the forefront of their strategic decision-making will be best placed to mitigate, adapt and respond to the effects of an increasingly unpredictable climate.

Jess Middleton

Senior Data Journalist