Recent climate catastrophe: A calamity or negligence
SO far, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) stated that the damage by floods in the country has been estimated at 900 billion rupees.
A total population of more than 33 million is estimated to be affected. There has been loss of lives and properties in 110 districts of the country, where nearly 10 hundred thousand houses and buildings have been damaged.
More than 700,000 cattle have been washed away in rural areas, as well as, this situation also persists in the slums of the cities in many parts of the country. Accordingly, this article will emphasize on the current floods, damages and poor management of the provincial and federal governments.
Torrential rains induced floods have hit most of the areas in the country, however, the province of Sindh has been the most affected by the floods where in 23 districts, more than 14.5 million people have been affected.
Followed by Sindh, entire Balochistan is also affected by these floods, where 34 districts and more than 9.1million people are among the victims. While, a total of 8 districts in Punjab province and more than 4.8 million people have been affected by the recent rains and floods. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s 33 districts around 4.3 million people have been affected in one way or another by the floods.
This situation in the country has triggered prices hikes, for example; prices of food commodities, fuel, medicines, blankets and tents have reached beyond the buyer‘s limit. All the standing crops, poultry, veterinary, livestock and the houses made of mud have been washed away by the recent floods.
Not only this, but the energy sources including the gas pipelines and electricity poles, long and costly electricity cables and optical fibres are in dire need of repairing that will further burden the national economy.
Rains vanished, victims are still under the open sky without any proper shelter. The sufferers are facing quandary of partially collapsed houses, food access and security for their life and remaining assets after floods.
The food shortage in both provinces, due to torrential rains and floods, is rising drastically, and shortage occurred due to abrupt supply drop from two weeks because of blockade and disruption in routes.
The fragile state of food availability is causing hunger, insufficient diet, malnutrition and long-term health issues. The situation is becoming vulnerable, which further adds worries among the middle-income public in general and women in particular as a result of floods and the stagnant water.
Additionally, the people living in far rural areas of Balochistan and Sindh are suffering from severe economic crisis and acute poverty.
More recently the floods have completely changed their lives and brought them to a very hard time. The maximum number of people living in far flung areas in Balochistan and Sindh have been dependent on agriculture, livestock and people work on daily wages.
Poor management, the climatic change, the flash-floods, the blockades in pathways, roads have made them vulnerable to acute poverty and in the long term food insecurity. The rescue teams are facing hurdles and even cannot access to the victims due to blockages and stagnant water in the region.
The houses made of mud stand collapsed completely or have been partially damaged, which can never become their abode in the coming days, rather a rehabilitation plan is required.
The current disastrous situation of floods has put a question mark on the credibility of institutions and organizations responsible for people’s lives, their assets, national infrastructure and socio-economic wellbeing of the people.
If there would have no rampant corruption in construction of bridges, would the 40 bridges have fallen in merely two weeks of floods?
Pakistan is on a trajectory to breach 1.5 degrees’ Celsius limit in a decade or go. Disasters will happen, as the developing countries are observing the climate change impacts, which will further deteriorate the situation.
To counter the flash-flood threats, the government ought to make small dams in areas where water flow is maximum, so that water is stored in those dams.
To secure the public from climate threat, a continuous multi-sectoral strategy is required, such as assured accessibility of pathways among provinces and structural reforms post the 18th Amendment.
Additionally, cohesion between the federal and provincial health systems, relief and rescue departments, rescuing the victims as top priority, supporting the agricultural industry, livestock and timely assisting the most vulnerable class of society from acute poverty by providing relief items is need of the hour.
—The writer is a Research Fellow at the Balochistan Think Tank Network.