Flooding in India, Nepal, Bangladesh: U-M experts can discuss

August 18, 2017
Contact: Mandira Banerjee mandirab@umich.edu


Flooding from monsoon rains has affected more than 16 million people and killed more than 500 across northern India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Many areas lack food and drinking water, and concerns about diseases are growing.

University of Michigan experts can discuss the situation:

Arun Agrawal, professor of School of Environment and Sustainability, grew up in Bihar. His house there has been flooded by the excessive rains. His expertise lies in the political economics of development, environmental governance, resource use and management, climate adaptation and institutional analysis.

“Stunning downpours in India, Nepal and Bangladesh have caused uncounted numbers of deaths, particularly of the poor and the more vulnerable,” he said. “They have also led to the loss of remarkably high levels of property and infrastructure.

“Few individual events can be attributed with certainty to anthropogenic climate change. But the sheer scale and intensity of rainfall in the last few days should alarm all decision makers and citizens in South Asia. Climate models predict more erratic rainfall, and more intense bouts of rain when it does fall. Without unprecedented mobilization of resources to strengthen the capacity of vulnerable populations to manage likely recurrence of such precipitation events, South Asian countries run the risk of continuing and even more intense everyday disasters during future monsoon seasons.”

Contact: 734-647-5948, arunagra@umich.edu

Bilal Butt is an assistant professor in the School for Environment and Sustainability. His research interests lie at the intersection of the natural and social sciences to answer questions of how people and wildlife are coping with and adapting to changing climates, politics, livelihoods and ecologies.

“Flooding happens periodically, but it affects the poor and vulnerable the most,” he said. “They live in areas that have long been ignored by the state and have insecure property rights, increasing their vulnerability to floods. In some cases, their assets are held in livestock and crops that floods can take away quicker.

“As many countries are learning about coping with climate change, vulnerable populations face disproportionate burdens as they benefit the least from adaption and mitigation efforts. They also suffer when the state overly attends to neoliberalism investments and private enterprises rather than investing into the poor and vulnerable.”

Contact: 734-615-6149, bilalb@umich.edu

Meha Jain is an assistant professor in the School for Environment and Sustainability. Her research examines the impacts of environmental change on agricultural production and strategies that farmers may adopt to reduce negative impacts.

“These floods are a clear humanitarian crisis,” she said. “From a food security perspective, in addition to causing immediate food shortages, there will be long lasting impacts as many crops will be decimated by extreme flooding.”

Contact: 734-764-5707, mehajain@umich.edu

Mark Wilson, professor of epidemiology, has broad research interests in infectious diseases, including the analysis of transmission dynamics, the evolution of vector-host-parasite systems and the determinants of human risk. He can discuss disease transmission, global patterns of disease and relationship to human activity.

Contact: 734-936-0152, wilsonml@umich.edu

Dean Yang, professor of economics and public policy, is an expert on the economic effects of natural disasters and how well disaster losses are buffered by international financial flows, such as foreign aid and foreign direct investment.

Contact: 734-764-6158, deanyang@umich.edu

Matthew Boulton, senior associate dean for global public health, is a professor of epidemiology, preventive medicine, and health management and policy. His research in India involves vaccination and other public health issues.

Contact: mboulton@umich.edu