South Asian region is highly prone to multiple disasters due to geo-climatic conditions. As per Center for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters (EM- DAT CRED), more than 1625 major disasters have occurred in SAARC region since 1990 causing life loss of more than 12 million, affecting 2.8 billion and causing damage more than 100 trillion US$.
Owing to its population density, hazard probability and existing vulnerabilities, South Asian region is one the most disaster-prone regions in the world. In last decade 2006 — 2016, the region has experienced more than 450 disaster events causing life loss of more than 56,000 affecting more than 570 million people. Interestingly, more than 60% of the losses were due to floods & cyclones.
Nearly 23% of the world’s population lives in the SAARC countries. The region is exposed to a plethora of natural hazards — both hydro-meteorological and geophysical. In terms of the number of events over the last 40 years, the principal natural hazards are floods (50%), cyclones (25%), earthquakes (13%), and major landslides (8%). In addition, drought affects a large part of the region, with many areas suffering consecutive years of drought. Heat waves regularly affect a number of countries in the region. Five Member States are also exposed to the risk of low frequency, high-impact events such as tsunamis. Member States are also exposed to Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) and the risk of GLOF in view of climate change and glacial melt is increasing. Climate Change is likely to increase the frequency and intensity of a range of natural hazards.
In 2015, according to UNISDR data, 54% of the total disaster related deaths occurred in Member States. More than one-third of the global disaster related deaths occurred in the Nepal earthquakes of 25 April and 12 May, 2015.
Considering the regional dimensions of natural disasters the 3rd SAARC Summit had commissioned a comprehensive Regional Study on the Causes and Consequences of Natural Disasters. A SAARC Meteorological Research Centre was established in Dhaka in 1995 and a SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre was set up at Male in 2004. A Special Session of the SAARC Environment Ministers in June 2005 adopted the Male Declaration, which called for formulation of a Comprehensive Framework of Disaster Management in South Asia.
The 13th SAARC Summit at Dhaka in November 2005 considered the issues of regional cooperation for preparedness and mitigation of national disasters and approved the offer of India to set up a SAARC Disaster Management Centre (SDMC) in New Delhi. The Centre was inaugurated on 10th October 2006. Later, in November 2016, Interim unit of SDMC has been shifted to Gujarat Institute of Disaster Management Campus. The Scope of the centre is expanded by merging the other Regional erstwhile centres namely SAARC Meteorological Centre (SMRC Dhaka, Bangladesh); SAARC Forestry Centre (SFC Thimphu, Bhutan); and SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre (SCZMC Male, Maldives) with SDMC. The centre is dedicated to work according to the approved blue print of SDMC-IU.