National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of Pakistan on August 26 said that over 900 people had been killed by unprecedented flash floods in the country. The torrential rains have now affected more than 30 million, destroying more than 580,000 houses.
According to Pakistan's climate change minister Sherry Rehman, the floods are a "climate-induced humanitarian disaster of epic proportions". Reuters reported Rahman saying that the 33 million people of Pakistan have been affected in various ways and the final homeless figures are still under assessment.
Following the overall damages caused by the flood, the Pakistan government declared the natural disaster a "national emergency" where more than 145 bridges and roads around 3,100km have been destroyed with the death toll continuing to rise.
Areas Of Impact
The southern provinces of Balochistan and Sindh have faced the worst brunt of the floods with Sindh being the hardest hit according to minister Rahman. In a report by Al Jazeera, 234 people died in Balochistan while the toll went to 306 people in Sindh.
Rahman told Reuters that around one million tents have been requested in Sindh for the flood victims. CNN mentioned that Balochistan requested 100,000 tents where victims have been largely cut off from gas, electricity and the internet.
The floods destroying the roadways and bridges have severely impacted the country. Balochistan's capital Quetta got isolated from other parts of the country as highways got swept away by the floods. The rain continued for more than 24 hours in Quetta and finally stopped on August 26 at 2 PM local time.
In the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, flash floods were reported with the worst-hit areas being Swat and Dir. Around 200 people died in the province with rescue operation efforts continuing to take place.
Pakistan's army, the NDMA and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority are still working on providing relief and assistance to flood victims, according to Rahman. She highlighted the "dire" need for shelter and relief due to the rising number of homeless victims and displaced families.
With floods jolting the entire country, prime minister Shehbaz Sharif postponed his scheduled official trip to the United Kingdom as he requested funds from international organisations and supporting countries. According to Sharif, "the ongoing rain spell has caused devastation across the country. The losses, though yet to be documented, are comparable to flash floods of 2010."
For a country under the grip of an economic crisis, the floods are an addition to the pile. For a cash-strapped Pakistan, the funding and reconstruction measures will be a challenge. This comes even as Pakistan is having to cut its expenditures to ensure that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approves the release of the much-required bailout money.
Earlier in July 2022, the IMF reached a preliminary agreement with Pakistan to revive a US$6 billion bailout package to help the nation battle the economic crisis.
Impact Of Climate Change
The ongoing floods in Pakistan are one example of climate change in the subcontinent. The floods have followed a severe heatwave. On May 14, the mercury reached 51°c in Jacobabad in Sindh Province. Many parts of the country came under the grip of a drought.
Now flash floods havocked the nation with incessant rains going on across Pakistan. While appealing for international assistance, Pakistan's climate change minister Sherry Rahman called the floods "a catastrophe of epic scale".
The calamity also throws light on Pakistan featuring at number eight on the list of the Long-term Global Climate Risk Index. This list is monitored by environmental NGO Germanwatch and keeps track of countries that are most vulnerable to extreme weather.
The rain pattern of August 2022 also reflects climatic abnormality. During a press conference in Islamabad, minister Sherry Rahman said, "Pakistan is going through its 8th cycle of monsoon; normally the country has only three to four cycles of [monsoon] rain."
This gets worse as Rahman also mentioned the possibility of another monsoon cycle in September. She said, "Pakistan is under an unprecedented monsoon spell and data suggests the possibility of re-emergence of another cycle in September," as quoted by Al Jazeera.
According to her, provinces-wise Sindh itself received 784% more rainfall this time compared to its August average. In Balochistan's case, the province received around 500% more rainfall this year in contrast to the August precipitation average. Authorities declared that 23 districts of the Sindh province have been declared calamity-hit.
The U.N. agency Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that further alerts for floods, landslides, and river overflows were issued with heavy rainfall forecast for the next two days in Pakistan.
In the Indian subcontinent, the annual monsoon plays a huge role in agriculture as crop irrigation heavily relies on the rains. Along with this, dams and lakes are also dependent upon the rains for replenishment. But the impact of climate change has started showcasing signs as these torrential rains trigger landslides and flash floods, affecting millions in a wave of destruction.
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