Compiled By Tanweer Ahmed
The devastating floods in Pakistan are a “wake-up call” to the world on the threats of climate change. In the recent era, the discussion and debates about climate change have gained momentum. Climate change has also heated the political discourses in Pakistan. With the country facing a behemoth flood and millions displaced the catastrophic effects of climate change are real for Pakistan. Further, the country’s fragile economy is also poised to bear the loss of crops yeild in the subsequent months to come. Pakistan has received nearly 190% more rain than its 30-year average from June to August – reaching a total of 390.7mm.
In the ongoing flood in the country to date, more than 1.14 million houses have been damaged and over 765,000 houses have been destroyed across the country, according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). Over 1,500 deaths and more than 12,800 injuries were recorded since mid-June, including 552 children killed and over 4,000 children injured. More than 5,500 undamaged schools are reportedly being used to shelter people who have been displaced. Another 22,000 schools have reportedly been damaged – over 17,400 in Sindh, over 2,300 in Balochistan, over 1,400 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and some 1,250 in Punjab.
Preliminary estimates based on currently available data indicate that some 7.6 million people may be displaced due to the heavy rains and floods, including some 575,000 people living in relief camps. Humanitarian partners are in the process of planning and rolling out efforts to verify the full extent of displacement in flood-affected areas.
The impact of the heavy rains and floods on production in the agricultural sector as well as on market prices has been severe across Pakistan, even in areas spared by the floods, risking a deterioration in the food security situation across the country. In some parts of the country, the price of a kilogram of rice has reportedly risen by nearly 80 percent since January 2022.
Increased incidences of malaria, dengue, acute watery diarrhea (AWD), and cholera are being reported and are expected to continue to rise in the coming months.
Pakistan has been among the least contributors to the emission of greenhouse gases causing the rise in global temperature. It contributes less than 1% to it. Yet it faces the brunt of climate change far earlier than the nations that are responsible for the natural calamity unfold.
Disasters like floods, droughts, and other calamities are major concerns in Pakistan. The climate change will lead to economic, social, and political implications for Pakistan. Statistics of the 2010 flood reflect that around 20 million people lost their homes, got wounded, and or went missing.
Pakistan has taken some precautionary measures and implemented a climate change policy in 2012. This was indeed a significant step to tackling disasters of Climate change.
However, it is expected that due to Global Warming Himalayas will melt at a faster pace and more flooding is expected in near future. Scientists predict that the average rainfall in the Indian summer monsoon season will increase due to climate change. The availability of fresh water is predicted to decrease. Communities present near the coasts of the Arabian Sea are more expected to be affected by flooding.
Pakistan’s economy is highly dependent on agriculture and due to the risk of agricultural yield; food security is at stake. This will directly impact the livelihood of people. With a population of 220 million people, food shortages can cause instability. A country’s already struggling economy can crash under such circumstances and could lead to widespread chaos.
Climate change is also leading to social inequalities as few are privileged classes that are less impacted by climate change and few are the sufferers.
In a country as diverse as Pakistan, the clash between different ethnicities and groups on resources are already visible. The clash to get a better share in the water of rivers of the Indus basin is evident. further, Pakistan’s eastern neighbor and rival India is itself struggling with water shortage and is at odds with Pakistan on sharing of water resources.
Pakistan faces a major climate change challenge. A concerted effort by the international community, the Pakistani state, and its people are required to mitigate the impact.