With approximately 1,500km of coastline, Palau's main vulnerabilities involve coastal and marine areas. These include extreme high tides, coastal erosion, seal-level rise, increase in drought and storm activity, increase sea-surface temperature and coral bleaching, all of which related to climate change (IISD, 2011). Like other Pacific Island states, this vulnerability is exacerbated by its geographical remoteness and isolation (World Bank). Palau is particularly vulnerable to sea-level rise and an increase in extreme weather events such as storm surges, given that the majority of its population, infrastructure and cultural sites are in coastal areas. Furthermore, it is vulnerable to long dry spells resulting from El Nino South Oscillation (ENSO).
This section provides a summary of key natural hazards and their associated socioeconomic impacts in a given country. It allows for a quick evaluation of most vulnerable areas through the spatial comparison of natural hazard data with development data, thereby identifying exposed livelihoods and natural systems.
The charts provide overview of the most frequent natural disaster in a given country and understand the impacts of those disasters on human populations.
Climate change is now recognized to have a significant impact on disaster management efforts and pose a significant threat to the efforts to meet the growing needs of the most vulnerable populations. The demands of disaster risk management are such that concise, clear, and reliable information is crucial. The information presented here offers insight into the frequency, impact and occurrence of natural hazards. Source (PDF)
Understanding natural hazard occurrence as well as historical climate conditions, in relation to development contexts, is critical to understanding a country’s historical vulnerability. This tool allows the visualization of different natural hazards or historical climate conditions with socio-economic and development datasets. Select the Development Context and either a Natural Hazard or Climate Condition and overlay horizontally by sliding the toggle left or right to gain a broader sense of historically vulnerable areas.
Data presented under Historical Climate Conditions are reanalysis products derived from ERA5-Land data. ERA5-Land is a global land-surface dataset at 9 km resolution, consistent with atmospheric data from the ERA5 reanalysis from 1950 onward. Climate reanalyses combine past observations with models to generate consistent time series of multiple climate variables. They provide a comprehensive description of the observed climate as it has evolved during recent decades, on 3D grids at sub-daily intervals.
This data has been collected, aggregated and processed by the Climate Resilience Cluster of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) initiative.
- Palau’s Disaster Management Handbook 2016 identifies the countries greatest risks as drought, typhoon, and the related problems of sea-level rise, erosion and storm surge.
- A major drought struck Palau in 2016, resulting in total drying of Koror’s only dam and an 80% decline in the level of Ngerikiil river. This led to crop failure and human health risks including malnutrition, dehydration and poor sanitation.
- In 2012 and 2013, Palau experienced major infrastructural damages from passing typhoons which forced it to turn to international assistance.
- The close relationship between natural hazards and El Niño, which itself is highly unpredictable, makes the estimation of trends very difficult.
- Trends in natural disasters are not well documented or studied.
- Average annual losses to natural hazards are estimated at 1-2% of GDP by ADB (2018).
- Palau has well developed disaster risk management institutions, policies, and practices. These are laid out in its National Disaster Risk Management Framework 2010 (Amended 2016).
- Palau has considerable dependence on international support during and after disaster events.
- The Asian Development Bank (2018) is working with the Government of Palau to develop disaster risk financing instruments.