Monsoon rains have caused destruction in Pakistan in terms of human fatalities and the annihilation of delicate infrastructure. Climate change appears to have further amplified the rate of rain recurrence, fierceness, and volatility.
The previous year, extraordinary rains and floods drowned a third of Pakistan, killing over 1,700 people, destroying hundreds of thousands of houses, schools, hospitals, roads, and bridges in Baluchistan and Sindh provinces, and causing enormous losses of over $30 billion.
Since June 25 when heavy monsoon rains hit our dear homeland killing ninety-nine people, including forty-one children throughout the country, we have seen worst scenarios in parts of the country. Approximately 175 people, including fifty-nine children and forty-eight women, got injuries, and the rains and flood damaged 130 houses, according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
Placed among the top ten most vulnerable countries on the Global Climate Risk Index even though our dear homeland is responsible for less than one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, it has suffered economic losses of $29bn in the last three decades due to climate-related disasters, excluding last year’s floods that affected seventy-five million people. These estimates by the World Bank do not include the damages caused to biodiversity, ecosystems, and coastlines.
Every fresh calamity compels thousands of children out of school, causes epidemics, and results in severe food scarcity. With the effect of climate change growing in intensity, as obvious from last year’s flood, policymakers need to invest greatly in dealing with the scales of these tragedies, with or without international assistance.
From the time when the first monsoon spell began less than a month ago, weather-related incidents have already claimed around ninety lives across the country and caused significant damage to property, crops, and livestock.
More than 50 people died in rain-related events in Punjab, the worst-hit region, followed by at least 20 deaths in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to flash floods and landslides.
More rains, thunderstorms, landslides, and high-level flooding in the rivers including the Sutlej, Ravi, Chenab, and Jhelum are likely in the coming weeks warn National disaster agencies.
The deluges are aggravating the already harsh conditions faced by communities affected by the 2022 floods. The heavy rains have slowed down recovery in the areas where a large number of people displaced by last year’s deluge still live without shelter, food, healthcare, and jobs.
The floods could affect 9.1m people this year, spreading disease and triggering more food shortages in a country where food insecurity is becoming an overriding concern, says International Rescue Committee.
According to the Met Office report new monsoon weather system is set to produce more rains across the country, warning that downpours may unleash urban floods in the low-lying areas of Peshawar, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, and Lahore.
Likewise, Gilgit-Baltistan, Kashmir, Galliyat, Murree, and hilly areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa may see landslides during the heavy rains.
Monsoon currents from the Arabian Sea have entered the country’s upper and central parts and may strengthen in the coming days to trigger rains, winds, and thundershowers.
Tragedies are natural; the resultant chaos is non-natural. Once again, familiar monsoon misery has returned with the strong deluge and another round of misery: flooded roads, blocked drainage, power cuts, traumatized daily life, and a rising human toll.
There have been varied reasons for this unhappy condition that is to say; climate change, abnormally heavy rainfall, lack of skill, pitiable planning, unlawful construction, and encroachments.
The wealthier nations must realize what is happening in Pakistan. They must not only pay for their contribution to global warming but also radically cut GHG emissions as agreed to at various international forums. More than funds and rhetoric, these need political will and official commitment for visible implementation.