Asian and Pacific Centre for the Development of Disaster Information Management
Online, 21 October 2021
The Asian and Pacific Centre for the Development of Disaster Information Management (APDIM) shared the findings on the risk of sand and dust storms in Central Asia and collaboration opportunities at the regional and subregional levels at a conference on regional approaches to combating sand and dust storms and drought (link opens tab) organized by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Program (CAREC) on 21 October 2021.
Ms. Letizia Rossano, APDIM Director, highlighted that “following APDIM Sand and Dust Storms Risk Assessment in Asia and the Pacific which is an evidence base for fostering collaboration and regional integration toward reducing the negative impact of sand and dust storms, the time is ripe to design coordinated actions on sand and dust storm from a transboundary perspective.”
The ongoing dialogues between the disaster risk reduction community, climate change and land degradation experts and scientists are essential to combat the negative impact of sand and dust storms as a climate-induced transboundary hazard that adversely impact the health and wellbeing of individuals and impose major socio-economic costs on communities, hindering the achievement of sustainable development.
Ms Rossano also underscored that APDIM stands ready to support Asia and the Pacific countries in conducting risk assessment of the socio economic impact of sand and dust storms at national and local levels and in initiating the systematic report of the impact of sand and dust storms through the Sendai Framework Monitoring tool.
UNCCD national focal points, national and regional experts on sand and dust storms and drought, scientific institutions, and implementers of the national part of the second component, national hydrometeorological services of Central Asia; UNCCD and project experts and regional and international actors took part in this conference.
Findings of APDIM Sand and Dust Storms Risk Assessment in Central Asia
* More than 80 per cent of the entire populations of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, are exposed to medium and high levels of poor air quality due to sand and dust storms.
* Large farmland areas are affected by dust deposition in Turkmenistan (71% of the cropland area) and Uzbekistan (44%). Much of this dust is characterised by a high salt content, making the dust toxic to plants. This reduces yields, representing a significant threat to the production of irrigated cotton and other crops. The same issue is evident in Tajikistan, although on a smaller proportion (21%) of national agricultural land.
* Very high dust deposition occurs in the Himalaya-Hindu Kush mountain range (partly located in Central Asia) and the Tibetan Plateau, the so-called Third Pole that provides fresh water to more than 1.3 billion people in Asia.
* In the aviation sector, the exposure of aircraft engines to dust particles is a considerable risk on flight paths traversing central parts of Asia. The risk of flight delays, diversions, and cancellations due to low visibility caused by sand and dust in the atmosphere at ground level is relatively high at airports in Central Asia.