The past couple of months have seen extreme floods in major cities across Pakistan that killed over 550 people and left hundreds injured.
Billions of rupees worth of private and state property have also been damaged. Public offices were closed in the severely hit areas across the country. People’s lives and livelihoods have been threatened by the ongoing extreme weather conditions.
Pakistan is among the countries that face the highest climate threats. The Global Risks Report 2022 published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has listed five risks that Pakistan faces imminently. Extreme weather events are one of those. The Global Climate Risk Index (CRI) 2021 has ranked Pakistan as the 8th most affected country by climate change. It estimates that 10,000 lives and $4 billion worth of loss has been consumed from 2000 to 2019.
From April to June this year, Pakistan was nearly drying when the weather was extremely hot. There was no rainfall. The dams were at all-time lowest on their water levels. The following months, the reservoirs were overflowing with water due to flooding. The rainfalls are heavy. They have become concentrated in a specific time, whereas they should be distributed throughout the year. The climate is changing the rainfall patterns which is resulting in these floods.
Karachi, the largest city by population and area, is home to over 16 million people. The port city, which is also the capital of the Sindh province, is most affected. It has poured in knee-deep water. On 24th July, 60 millimeter rain fell within hours. Roads had been flooded making it impossible to commute both inter and intra-city. The high flow of water damaged the already miserable infrastructure of the division. In July, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) reported that 5600 homes were damaged due to the rain. The markets are also flooded resulting in the damaging of products such as electronics and garments. The loss is increasing as the rain continues.
Pakistan’s most underdeveloped province Balochistan observed a similar pattern. The death toll reached over 500 this year. The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) reported that a mother and child were among those killed when a roof fell over them due to heavy rain. The same report said that more than 700 livestock animals also succumbed to the flood.
Even Punjab, the most developed province, has been warned to expect above average rainfall this year. The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has issued an alert when India released the floodwater to flow into Pakistani rivers.
Pakistan’s agriculture sector contributes a big chunk in its GDP. Shortage of necessary crops, such as sugar and wheat, is common. The crops were also damaged within these rainfalls. The inflation rate, which is already at an all-time high, could surge further.
The severity has decreased, but it will take weeks, or months, to clear out the mark of the floods. The departments that regulate municipal and disaster operations are overlooked and underpaid. Lack of responsibility is also among the reasons for their inefficiency.
The extreme weather patterns are becoming a norm in the South Asian region, especially Pakistan and India. New Delhi and Lahore, the metropolises of these two countries, frequently top the worst rank in the air quality index (AQI). It is about time that the authorities realise the gravity of climate change and take necessary actions.