existing environmental issues that the region faces. At stake are changes in ecosystems and agricultural lands and decreases in crop and natural resource supplies. This impacts the food security and livelihoods of a significant number of people with often severe consequences. For example, flash floods in the Himalaya are estimated to cause the loss of at least 5,000 people every year (Jianchu et al., 2006) and probably affect a much higher number of people in different ways. The destruction of bridges, roads and buildings affect people’s livelihoods and possibilities for mobility, communicate and work. The destruction also affects important supply pathways.
Mudslides and unstable grounds induced by floods are serious threats to settlement areas. The region is particularly flood-sensitive due to the rough topography of the Himalaya, combined with the precariousness of many homesteads with low incomes and limited access to development services. Moreover, the risks of death and destruction are increased by the fact that after floods, people often rebuild on the same risk- prone areas. Himalayan inhabitants face many different kinds
of impacts due to unstable grounds, decreased agricultural production and long term flood-related disasters.
These disasters extend beyond the Himalayan region to affect a much wider territory and a great number of people. From 1999 to 2008, floods affected close to 1 billion people in Asia, whereas the corresponding figures were about 4 million in Europe, 28 million in the Americas and 22 million in Africa. Over the last 30 years, floods and landslides in South Asia have caused more than 65,000 deaths and affected approximately a billion people, accounting for about 33% of all the flood events in Asia (Shrestha and Takara, 2007).
The largest problems occur in flood prone areas with high population densities because of the sheer number of people affected. This includes parts of northeast India, south-central Nepal, central and southern Pakistan, large parts of Bangladesh and the lower reaches of the large rivers in China.
In India, flooding has affected about 40 million people annually and caused damage estimated to be as high as USD 240 million