Pakistan is one of the countries to be worst affected by climate change and warned of an increase in annual and summer monsoon precipitation. Mainly the developing and poorly developed cities are more susceptible to climate change and its effects. The poor are affected more whenever any climatic disaster occurs in area because of a lack of communication and resources. The effects of it can be seen due to fragile socioeconomic conditions and poor health. The recent torrential monsoon rains and floods inundated several areas in Balochistan mainly Zhob, Bolan, Lasbela and Sibi. Therefore, this article aims to ensure the government’s attention to recent floods’ damages and to rescue the people to overcome the humanitarian crisis.
An important highway connecting Karachi to Balochistan’s provincial capital Quetta remained closed for about eight days due to floods in many areas of the Lasbela district and damage caused to the Hub River bridge, according to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA). The authority said around 600 people in both cities were stuck due to the highway closure.
Understanding the matter better
Districts of Balochistan have been disconnected from the rest of the country as roads and highways have been damaged by the floods. Hotels on the Quetta-Karachi highway are packed with passengers waiting for the roads to be cleared. Houses, graveyards, and many schools remain submerged in the recent flood water. Many families have lost their belongings, houses of many families have been submerged in the flood water, and will be required to rebuild their homes.
The brunt of this will be borne by those living in undeveloped areas like Balochistan. According to PDMA, the loss of floods in Balochistan is tragic and many more lives are vulnerable to death due to a shortage of food, shelter and no access to dry land. since June 1, the expected death toll has risen to 149 in the province, with 70 injuries, 13,535 houses collapsed or partially damaged, and more than ten dams sustained minor or major damages during the rains. Similarly, 650 kilometers of roads, 13 bridges and 2431 solar plates were affected. Rains have also washed away 712 livestock and 197,930 acres of standing crops cultivated in the affected areas.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif constituted a committee comprising federal ministers to assess the damage caused by the monsoon rains and that they should visit all the affected areas, including Balochistan. The Prime Minister said the federal government will extend full cooperation with the Balochistan government to cope with the impact of the natural calamity. He also announced to enhance the compensation of injured people from fifty thousand rupees to two hundred thousand rupees, and this amount is not enough for the poor masses of Balochistan that have lost their belongings in floods.
Flood relief efforts
The Balochistan government released more than Rs. 900 million as compensation for the victims of floods and rains. Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qaddus Bizenjo was compelled to order evacuation through helicopters when residents were left stranded on the roof of their huts after parts of the province were inundated with water. Further assistance, relief and rescue operations are continued by shifting the affected people to safer locations by the provincial government, PDMA, Pakistan army and other relevant departments jointly.
As their primary objective of providing early warnings on the intensity of rainfall and possible rain-induced floods, the NDMA and PDMA failed to create potential resilience to take prior prevention measures or evacuate vulnerable people. The first wake-up call is specific to Balochistan. The alarming situation in Balochistan has revealed the country’s unpreparedness to deal with the emerging climate crisis. The ill-preparedness of the province for the rains has much to do with the fact that the province is economically backward.
There is mismanagement; proper machinery is not available, houses are built in the flood ravines, and the government has failed to build dams and enlarge rainfall canals. Rampant corruption is evident and the preference of tribal leaders for their self-interests instead of improving the socioeconomic condition of residents of Balochistan.
In this scenario, wake-up calls to both federal and provincial governments are thus required that they must take the recent destruction as a sign to intensify efforts to improve disaster management response and, equip the province with a resilient climate and, improve flood warning mechanisms. Further, keep the sewer system clean so that the dumping of water is resolved quickly and rain pathways will get a chance to pass by to the mainstream nearby, and relevant apparatuses to deal with future climate emergencies.
Read more: Indian floods sweep hundreds of people
Although the Balochistan government was providing food, tents and other essential items to flood-affected people, affected people are large in number, and resources are hardly met or not met at all in different areas where pathways and roads are broken, and cities are disconnected due to transportation and telecommunication. Therefore, it is essential to make a proper mechanism to provide food and health safety measures to these vulnerable people on an urgent basis.
Ms. Hafsa Sherani works as an Assistant Research Fellow in Balochistan Think Tank Network (BTTN) at BUITEMS, Quetta, Balochistan. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.