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Sunday, April 14, 2024

How the floods caused heavy damages to Pakistan

Heavy monsoon rainfall and floods have affected 30 million people in Pakistan since mid-June, destroying nearly 218,000 houses and damaging some two million more. Sindh and Balochistan are the two most affected provinces in terms of human and infrastructural impact.

Preliminary estimates show that the country has already suffered heavy damages, including a death toll of more than 1000 precious lives, injured around 2000 persons, and damaged houses, crops, animals, and property. Initial estimates show it is worth $5.5 billion. But, it is just an initial report, and heavy rains are expected next few days. It is scary that the actual damages might be much more than the official figures as the compilation of actual data is a rather difficult and time taking matter.

In Sindh and Punjab provinces, sugarcane and cotton crops have been destroyed completely while onion, tomato, and Kharif chilies have been partially damaged. The loss of cotton crops alone has been estimated at $2.6 billion.

Read more: Why PTI refuses to suspend its political activities despite floods

Experts believe Pakistan’s textile and sugar export could drop by $1 billion

At least 2 million tons of wheat stored at the government’s warehouses in Sindh have been spoiled due to rains and floods, threatening the country’s food security, seriously.

The destruction in the agriculture sector means that Pakistan will not only encounter a supply shortage for industries but there could also be a seed crisis in the country.

Officials have estimated that over 800,000 cattle heads have been lost to rains and floods this season.

The floods have also destroyed road and communication networks in four provinces. Officials have put the estimated damages at $2 billion.

The damage suffered by under construction Mohmand dam and headworks at different locations has added to the flood losses.

In 2022, Pakistan received higher rainfall than usual

The province of Sindh received 784% higher rain than usual and Baluchistan received 500% more rain than normal. Higher than average monsoon rains were also recorded in India and Bangladesh. The Indian Ocean is one of the fastest warming regions in the world, warming by an average of 1°C (as opposed to the global warming average of 0.7°C).

The rise in sea surface temperatures is believed to increase monsoon rainfall. In addition, southern Pakistan experienced back-to-back heat waves in May and June, which were record-setting and themselves made more likely by climate change. These created a strong thermal low that brought heavier rains than usual. The heatwaves also triggered glacial flooding in Gilgit Baltistan.

Read more: Pakistan declares emergency as floods swallowed 34 more lives

Heavy monsoon rainfall and floods have affected 30 million people in Pakistan since mid-June, destroying nearly 218,000 houses and damaging some two million more. Sindh and Balochistan are the two most affected provinces in terms of human and infrastructural impact. Millions of livestock have been killed, most of them in the province of Balochistan, while the destruction of over 3,600 km of roads and 145 bridges has impeded access across flood-affected areas. Over 17,560 schools were damaged or destroyed as well.

At the request of the Balochistan Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), a multi-sectoral rapid needs assessment was undertaken in 10 districts of Baluchistan to identify priority needs and gaps across sectors. Humanitarian partners are supporting the government-led response in affected areas, redirecting existing resources to meet the most urgent needs while working to further scale up the response.

Pakistan has declared a national emergency and is seeking assistance from the International community. Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood had a briefing session with Pakistan’s Ambassadors/heads of Missions in various capitals regarding the current calamity faced by the nation due to unprecedented monsoon floods. He highlighted the efforts led by the Government of Pakistan with the help of development partners including the United Nations, IFIs, and many countries and organizations to address the daunting challenges posed by the devastating floods.

The Foreign Secretary emphasized the importance of coordinated and concerted efforts for rescue and relief in the immediate phase to be followed by reconstruction and rehabilitation in the long term. The holistic needs assessment carried out by the Government of Pakistan in coordination with the UN Country Team was shared along with details of the loss of life and damage done to infrastructure and property. It was important to mitigate the inter-related impacts of the floods including food shortage, communicable diseases, loss of shelter, non-availability of water and sanitation facilities, etc.

The Foreign Secretary urged the Missions to play a proactive role in mobilizing resources and humanitarian assistance from the Pakistani diaspora and the international community to support the national efforts. The Ambassadors were also briefed about the UN Flash Appeal to be launched on 30 August simultaneously in Geneva and Islamabad.

Read more: Int’l community stands by Pakistan as it battles raging floods

The Ambassadors were briefed on the wide range of activities being undertaken by them to enhance international awareness and garner support for the rescue and relief efforts of the Government. Views were exchanged on close coordination, swift information-sharing, and a range of actions to be taken in support of the ongoing operations.

Pakistan needs support from everyone

The people of Pakistan have always shown exemplary resilience, brotherhood, compassion, generosity, and commitment in the wake of such natural disasters. Pakistan is amongst the top ten disaster-prone countries due to climate change and the recent flash floods are another manifestation of this fact. It is important that the international community shows solidarity with Pakistan and reinforces its national efforts in combating the impacts of such natural disasters.

However, despite early warnings, the Government was unable to take preventive measures. Experts have advised the Government much earlier that heavy floods are expected this year.

Although Pakistan’s economy was not in a good shape to take absolute preventive measures, the priority of the government and will was also questionable. The Government indulged in unnecessary political turmoil and kept flood warnings aside.

Read more: Unprecedented floods in Pakistan

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Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Founding Chair GSRRA, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com). The views expressed by the writers do not necessarily represent Global Village Space’s editorial policy.