The torrential monsoon rains have submerged a third of Pakistan, claiming at least 1,200 lives, including 244 women, 526 men and 416 children (the figure is still staggering), and the unleashing powerful floods have washed away crops and destroyed more than a million homes. On August 26th the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) declared an emergency when the death toll increased to 937 including 343 children and 30 million people being homeless. According to the metrological office, July’s national rainfall was almost 200 percent above the average, the highest percentage recorded since July 1961.
Federal Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman described the country as “like a fully soaked sponge,” incapable of absorbing any more rain. Moreover, the overflowing rivers wreak havoc across the country as it has already suffered a heavy loss of $10 billion. The northern areas of Pakistan have been severely hit by the floods, as multi-story buildings have collapsed due to low-quality construction in Swat, Kalam and Narran, taking as many as 285 innocent lives in KP province. Likewise, southern Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan have also experienced heavy damage, and the Sindh province has recorded the highest death toll of 502 since mid-June. Similarly, 257 fatalities are recorded in Balochistan and around 188 people have died in the Punjab province. The Gilgit Baltistan (GB) province has also been declared a ‘calamity hit’ district, including the other 80 districts in the country and 243 bridges being destroyed.
In addition to people being killed, more than 1,500 people were injured and many public health facilities, water systems, and schools were destroyed in the most severe floods this summer. Amidst the climate catastrophe, almost 45 percent of the cropland has been inundated by the floods, posing a serious threat to food security and further adding to the already skyrocketing inflation.
The Sindh CM adviser on Agriculture, Manzoor Wassan expressed himself as; “The heavy rains had destroyed cotton, rice, and date crops, causing a loss of Rs. 109.347bn. The entire cotton crop standing on over 1.4 million acres, rice standing on 602,120 acres, and dates on 101,379 acres had been destroyed. Almost 50 percent of the sugarcane crop on 729,582 acres has also been damaged.”
Read more: Lessons from 2022 floods in Pakistan
Additionally, Pakistan’s textile and sugar exports are also estimated to drop by $1 billion, nearly 2 million tonnes of wheat stored at government warehouses in Sindh have been washed away, and over 800,000 livestock have also been lost to rains and floods this season. The number of destroyed houses increased to almost 436,000, with Sindh, Balochistan, and KP provinces most affected. Likely, a high flood alert remains along parts of the Indus River, specifically between Taunsa in Punjab and Kotri in Sindh.
Moving on, the government has announced a cash assistance of Rs. 250,000 for injured people, a compensation of Rs. 0.5 million for completely damaged mud and concrete houses, and Rs. 0.2 million for partially destroyed houses. Local NGOs like the Akhuwat Foundation and Al- Khidmat Foundation, along with the Army Relief Camp and NDMA, dispatched trucks carrying tents, food and water to various parts of the country for flood victims. The International Monetary Fund has also approved the revival of a loan program for Pakistan, releasing a $1.1 billion tranche.
To cope with the devastating floods, the Chairman of PTI, Imran Khan, held an international telethon to raise funds from within the country and overseas Pakistanis for the flood victims. Senator Faisal Javed Khan confirmed Rs. 5 billion donations collected in 3 hours long flood telethon.
Many international organizations and UN agencies are also responding with the government and partners as the UN has allocated $3 million to assist Pakistan with its flood relief efforts. The UN chief, Antonio Guterres, called it “a monsoon on steroids” as he launched an international appeal for $160 million in emergency funds for the country as the rehabilitation of 33 million people will cost more than $10 billion. Likewise, WHO has also classified the catastrophe as a grade 3 emergency- the highest level of its internal grading system. The international community has announced aid and donations for flood victims in the country.
Furthermore, China has once again proven itself as Pakistan’s all-weather friend as it has pledged humanitarian assistance for the country. The supplies would include 25,000 tents and $300,000 in emergency cash to aid the flood-hit regions in Pakistan. Similarly, Cargo planes from Turkey, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates carrying tents, food and other daily necessities came to assist the flood victims in the country.
Besides, the UK government has also announced humanitarian support of up to £15 million and the EU has pledged €350,000 to assist flood victims in Pakistan. Similarly, the US has announced $30 million and Bangladesh has declared 80 million Takka aid for Pakistan flood relief funds. Other countries that have pledged support and are extending cash or in-kind assistance include Australia, Azerbaijan, Canada, France, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, New Zealand, Norway, Palestine, Qatar, ROK, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Uzbekistan, along with World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and other UN agencies. Conclusively, millions trapped by monsoon floods await help amid threats of more flooding in Pakistan.
Note: A slightly different version of this article appears in the 2022 September Magazine.