People and infrastructure: Multi-scale assessment of coastal and fluvial flood exposure in India

Document Type


Publication Date



India is one of the world's most flood-prone countries, with present-day risks likely to be exacerbated by climate change in the coming decades. The type of risk varies by location, with the lives, homes, and livelihoods of residents of India's coastal megacities threatened by coastal floods and storm surges while village-dwellers residing in rural flood plains may additionally lose both crops and livestock. Schools and health facilities throughout the country are also at risk. This multi-scale study employs several datasets, from multiple domains, to generate high-resolution estimates of potential exposure to fluvial and coastal floods for 1) urban and rural populations, 2) health facilities, and 3) educational facilities. Our results, presented at the state level, suggest high exposure to fluvial flooding with about 184 million or more than 1:7 of India's population at risk. This proportion is somewhat higher for rural dwellers (15.8%) compared with urban residents (14.2%). Urban residents, however, are much more likely to be affected by coastal floods, likely due to the high population densities of India's coastal megacities. In total, around 19,218 (15%) of health and 34,519 (18%) of educational facilities are exposed to either coastal or fluvial flood risks. A spatially detailed, locally refined, comprehensive flood risk assessment such as this is critical to inform and target public policy and guide disaster risk reduction plans. By improving infrastructure, increasing awareness, and developing proactive, targeted, and inclusive flood plans, communities can build resilience.






Population, Environmental Risks, and the Climate Crisis (PERCC)