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Sand and Dust Storms Impact over 500 Million People in India: APDIM Report 

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Sand and dust storms impact over 500 million in IndiaThe Asian and Pacific Centre for the Development of Disaster Information Management (APDIM), the regional institution of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP), has released the report on sand and dust storms named ‘Sand and Dust Storms Risk Assessment in Asia and the Pacific’.

  • As per the risk assessments of the report, more than 500 million people in India are exposed to medium and high levels of poor air quality due to sand and dust storms.
  • The Asia-Pacific region is the world’s 2nd largest in terms of mineral dust emissions.

Key Analysis of the Report:

i.Energy sector: The sand and dust storms impact the generation of electricity by solar power plants. India has 1,584 gigawatt-hours (GWh) energy loss in 2019, in economic terms, the impact is greater than USD 107 million a year.

ii.Around 60 million people from the cities of Karachi (Pakistan), Lahore (Pakistan), and Delhi have experienced more than 170 dusty days a year in 2019 due to sand and dust storms.

  • More than 80 percent of the populations of Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Iran are exposed to medium and high levels of poor air quality due to sand and dust storms.

iii.6 million residents of 8 cities (3 in China, 2 in the Islamic Republic of Iran, 2 in Pakistan, and 1 in Uzbekistan) across the Asia Pacific region were breathing air with unhealthy concentrations of particulate matter every day for at least 10 months in 2019.

iv.Environment: Due to high dust deposition, the agricultural lands in Central Asia and glaciers in the Himalaya (Himalaya-Hindu Kush mountain range) and Tibetan mountains, which are the sources of fresh water for more than 1.3 billion people in Asia, were getting affected.

v.Sand and dust storms directly affect 11 of the 17 UN-mandated sustainable development goals (SDG).

vi.Positive Effect: 

  • The dust particles that carry iron can enrich parts of oceans, improving the phytoplankton balance and impacting marine food webs.
  • Some of the dust particles increase the nutrient content in the areas of deposition and benefit vegetation.

Recent Related News:

On April 20, 2021, UN-ESCAP in its report ‘Beyond the pandemic: Building back better from crises in Asia and the Pacific’ analysed the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 in Asia and the Pacific countries.

About UNESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific):

APDIM is one of the 5 regional commissions of the UN.

Establishment – 1947
Headquarters – Bangkok, Thailand
Executive Secretary – Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana
Members – 53 members and 9 associate members