Top 5 countries with the highest risk of flooding

Top 5 countries with the highest risk of flooding

Over the years, floods have caused enormous damage, killing many worldwide, leaving people injured or pushing them into poverty. A recent report states that almost 2 billion people worldwide are directly exposed to 1-in-100-year floods. Using this data, Visual Capitalist has ranked countries according to their risk of flooding.

Flooding, one of the major global climatic threats to the population worldwide, puts years of countries’ progress at risk. At the same time, climate change and global warming continue to intensify levels of precipitation worldwide, triggering fatal flooding incidences. In Pakistan, a record level of monsoon rainfall left one-third of the country under water this summer, killing at least 1,136 people. A recent study estimates that 1.81 billion people, around 23% of the world’s population, are directly exposed to 1-in-100-year floods, with 1.24 billion being located in South and East Asia alone. In China and India, around 395 million and 390 million people respectively are exposed to direct flooding meaning that over one-third of those exposed reside in these two countries. According to the same study, 89% of the world’s flood-exposed population live in low- and middle-income countries.

Flooding, therefore, threatens people across multiple countries but which nations are the most vulnerable to the risk of flooding? Using the study’s results, Visual Capitalist has mapped flood risks around the world, taking into account both coastal and inland flooding.

China and India lead the top 5 countries by the total population at risk. In both countries, 28% of the population is exposed to the direct risk of flooding. Bangladesh occupies third place with 94 million people at risk of flooding. Indonesia and Pakistan rank fourth and fifth, with 76 million and 72 million of the population facing the risk of flooding, respectively.

The list of countries ranked by the percentage of the population at risk is topped by the Netherlands, followed by Bangladesh. These countries are the only two in the world that have more than half of their population at risk due to flooding. In the Netherlands, 59% of the population is exposed to flooding, and in Bangladesh, around 58%. Vietnam comes third with 46% of people at risk of flooding while the final two are Egypt and Myanmar with 40.5% and 39.9%, respectively.

Out of the top 20 nations ranked by the percentage of the population at risk, only three countries are European: the Netherlands (59%), Austria (29%), and Albania (28%). In Africa, Egypt has the highest risk (41%), followed by South Sudan (33%) and the Republic of the Congo (29%). In South America, Guyana and Surinam lead the list of countries with the highest risk, with 38% of the population at risk. The Southeast Asia region, with 1.24 billion people at risk, has the highest risk of flooding among all regions.

While the primary concern in terms of natural catastrophes is human life, disasters also have a significant impact on economies. In 2021 alone, floods, droughts, and storms triggered US$224.2 billion in economic losses globally. This number is almost double the average between 2001 and 2020 (US$117.8 billion). Recent research shows that floods US$5.6 trillion of global GDP is expected to be wiped out by 2050 due to risks caused by floods, droughts, and storms with floods being forecast to be responsible for 36% of these direct losses.