Will the Poor Be Flooded Out? The IPCC's Predicted Flood Disasters and Their Implications for Development Aid

April 09, 2007

The second working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its final report in Brussels on April 5, 2007. It finds that as a result of global warming droughts and floods will become more frequent and severe. This CGD Note by senior fellow David Wheeler shows that while there is no indication that floods are more common in poor countries, when it does flood, poor country citizens are much more likely than the residents of rich countries to suffer severe consequences: homelessness, injury, death. Wheeler says the international community must help poor countries develop stronger protective institutions, greater resources for flood protection, and affordable insurance for those who suffer damage. Advocates and policymakers should also remember that people in flood-prone poor countries already suffer much more than people in flood-prone rich countries. Flood protection assistance is important now, and its benefits will increase as the rains begin falling more heavily in a warmer world.

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