More than 100 ‘natural disasters’ could strike in the Arab region in the next four years because of climate change, according to a new report.

The Arab Sustainable Development Report 2015 predicts that disasters such as earthquakes, floods and storms will affect more than 210 million people in urban centers between 2010 and 2019.

Issued by the United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia and regional experts, it documents less than 200 extreme climatic events between 2010 and last year, but says the figure will increase to more than 300 by 2019.

‘Over the past several decades, the region has witnessed an increasing trend in natural disasters, with corresponding increases in human and economic losses’, states the report, which was released in Bahrain on Tuesday.

‘Droughts are now impacting tens of millions of people and are expected to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.’

The report was released during the Arab High-Level Forum on Sustainable Development, which ended yesterday.

The report warns that floods and storms will particularly affect remote rural regions, while Bahrain is one of six Arab countries at risk from increasing sea levels.

However, this coincides with concerns over a fresh water shortage, with almost half of the Arab population suffering from water scarcity.

The report warns that 18 of 22 Arab countries, including Bahrain and the other GCC countries, fall below the water poverty line of 1,000 cubic meters per person annually.

It says high population growth rates and rapid urbanization is putting increasing pressure on water resources and that by 2025, the Arab region is expected to have its lowest annual per capita water resources since 1960.

‘The situation is further exacerbated by unsustainable consumption and production patterns that have seriously depleted the region’s natural resources and affected the quality of life,’ it points out.

UN resident coordinator and United Nations Development Programme resident representative Peter Grohmann described one of the biggest challenges facing the region was changing attitudes of the people.

Other key challenges facing the Arab region highlighted in the report include a housing shortfall, estimated at over 3.5m houses, and high unemployment among young people.