Pakistan’s Deadly Flood Season Worsened by Climate Change and Bad Infrastructure (2022)

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Pakistan’s Deadly Flood Season Worsened by Climate Change and Bad Infrastructure (1)

July 24, 2022, 11:50 a.m. ET

July 24, 2022, 11:50 a.m. ET

Zia ur-Rehman,Christina Goldbaum and Salman Masood

Pakistan’s Deadly Flood Season Worsened by Climate Change and Bad Infrastructure (2)

KARACHI, Pakistan — Year after year in Kausar Niazi Colony, a slum in the port city of Karachi, Murtaza Hussain and his neighbors watched as monsoon rains flooded into their homes, damaging furniture, televisions and other precious valuables.

So when particularly heavy monsoon rains began drenching Karachi earlier this month, Mr. Hussain braced for more of the same: Water poured into his house. Floods deluged his neighborhood. At least one of his neighbors drowned.

“It took us nearly two days to clean the water and get the house back to normal. There was no help from the government,” said Mr. Hussain, 45, who works in a textile factory. “Every year, the government says there will be no flooding, but the problem is getting worse.”

(Video) WION Climate Tracker LIVE | Pakistan Floods: Worst in country's history | Climate Change News

But the season this year has been particularly brutal, offering an urgent reminder that in an era of global warming, extreme weather events are increasingly the norm, not the exception, across the region — and that Pakistan’s major cities remain woefully ill equipped to handle them.

Monsoon rains have killed at least 282 people over the past five weeks, many of them women and children, the National Disaster Management Authority announced on Thursday. The deluge has also damaged critical infrastructure, like highways and bridges, and around 5,600 homes, the authority said.

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Pakistan has long ranked among the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world, according to the Global Climate Risk Index, which tracks the devastating human and economic toll of extreme weather events. The country is estimated to have lost nearly 10,000 lives to climate-related disasters and suffered about $4 billion in losses between 1998 and 2018.

Already, there are signs that the climate-related devastation will worsen in the coming years, experts say. The rains this year have been 87 percent heavier than the average downpour, according to Sherry Rehman, the country’s minister for climate change, who linked the new weather pattern to climate change.

(Video) Pakistan's deadly floods leave trail of devastation | DW News

She warned that the country should prepare for more flooding and damage to infrastructure as its glaciers continue to melt at an accelerated pace, causing flash floods.

“This is a national disaster,” Ms. Rehman said at a news conference this month.

Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, experienced a record rainfall just two years ago. This month’s monsoon rains broke records yet again, according to Syed Murad Ali Shah, Sindh Province’s chief minister — raising alarmed questions about how the country’s economic hub might survive if the trend continues.

The floods have turned main roads into rivers. Houses have been filled with sewage that spewed out of manholes. Electricity has been suspended for hours or days to prevent exposed wires from coming into contact with water in the streets and electrocuting people. The devastation has brought the port city to a standstill for days on end and killed at least 31 people, many of whom were electrocuted or drowned after roofs and walls collapsed on them, according to the provincial disaster agency.

The devastation has also set off an outcry from residents over the lack of government preparedness to deal with urban flooding.

Even before the rains flooded Karachi, the city was already in shambles, with roads crumbling and slums expanding, and was deprived of basic government services although it provides Pakistan with about 40 percent of its revenue. But even in the city’s more affluent areas, with a relative advantage in services, the rains have wreaked havoc.

Murtaza Wahab, the Karachi administrator, said that the city has an old drainage and sewerage infrastructure that could not cope with the torrential rains and acknowledged that updates were critical. But he said the city fared better this year than in 2020 because the government began clearing clogged drains ahead of time and built some new ones.

Fazal Ali, an accountant who lives in the Defense Housing Authority, a military-administered housing society, was forced to leave his house this month and move to a private hotel after flood water broke his house’s main gate and submerged the home.

(Video) What's causing Pakistan's devastating floods? | ABC News

“The water waves gushed into the home whenever a vehicle passed by our house through the street,” Mr. Ali said, adding that the iron gate was broken in a flash flood two years earlier as well. “The government has learned no lessons from past disasters.”

Rainwater also inundated the metropolis’s business district, the location of most of its wholesale markets dealing in commodities and garments, causing traders a loss of billions of rupees.

“Traders rushed to their shops to shift their stocks to safe spots but to no avail, as there was so much water that the roads were impassable,” said Hakeem Shah, a leader of Karachi’s traders.

“It was complete incompetence of the government,” he added. “Now the government should compensate the traders, who are already suffering from inflation.”

The flooding comes just two years after another devastating monsoon season pummeled Karachi in August 2020, killing over 40 people and battering an economy already struggling from the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

It took weeks after the monsoon season ended to repair the damage from those floods, which also took a psychological toll on residents who feared even a normal rainy day could bring the city to a standstill once again.

The severe damage from those floods and subsequent protest in Karachi pushed government officials to take steps to buffer the city against the yearly monsoons.

The prime minister at the time, Imran Khan, announced a nearly $14 million financial package to repair chronic infrastructure issues in Karachi. Thousands of makeshift homes and vendor stalls near drainage systems were demolished. The provincial government began a campaign clearing drains of heaps of garbage.

But two years later, not much has changed.

“There is no accountability,” said Amber Danish, a Karachi resident and social activist.

After the flooding began in Karachi this month, Wasim Akhtar, a former Karachi mayor, blamed the provincial authorities that control the city’s local government.

“The people of Karachi pay billions in taxes to the government but after every spell of rain, Karachi turns into a mess,” Mr. Akhtar said at a news conference. “Where is all the money that the provincial government gets from the federal government?”

But Mr. Shah, the chief minister, blamed the severity of the rain.

“The provincial government managed the situation in the best way it could,” Mr. Shah said at a news conference on July 12.

(Video) Will Pakistan's deadly floods leave economic recovery sinking? | Counting the Cost

Most analysts blame Pakistan’s increasing monsoon devastation on a combination of factors. Climate change is causing heavier rains, government officials have shown incompetence and inability to coordinate, and sporadic urban planning has left major cities particularly vulnerable to damage.

Coordination between Pakistani city, provincial and national governments — which are often run by different political parties with little incentive to cooperate — is practically nonexistent. In Karachi’s case, rural voters tend to dominate polls in the province, meaning the city’s urban woes have little political consequences for its provincial leaders.

And Karachi itself is a puzzle of overlapping administrative fiefs, where civilian and military administrations often intersect in confusing ways.

“All of these problems stem from the city being poorly governed and exploited by multiple political parties vying for control of the city’s economic resources, but all failing to deliver basic services to its residents,” said Jumaina Siddiqui, senior program officer for South Asia at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

In the meantime, the city’s residents have been left to fend for themselves amid increasingly brutal rains.

This month in Karachi, Danish, a carpenter who uses a single name, was riding his motorcycle with his wife and two children when they fell into an open drain after heavy rains submerged the road. Residents managed to rescue him and his 3-year-old daughter, he said, but his wife and 2-year-old drowned.

“It was not rain that killed my wife and child,” Danish said. “It was the government’s incompetence and people’s helplessness.”

FAQs

Is Pakistan flooding caused by climate change? ›

A new analysis confirms that climate change likely helped cause the disaster. It is likely that climate change helped drive deadly floods in Pakistan, according to a new scientific analysis. The floods killed nearly 1500 people and displaced more than 30 million, after record-breaking rain in August.

Why so many floods in Pakistan? ›

The fingerprints of climate change are present in these unprecedented floods. Though areas of Pakistan expect rain in these months, the country has seen continuous rainfall for two months. In April, Pakistan also experienced a different extreme: record-breaking heat, with temperatures reaching over 40 degrees Celsius.

What caused the 2010 Pakistan floods? ›

The floods were driven by rain. The rainfall anomaly map published by NASA showed unusually intense monsoon rains attributed to La Niña. On 21 June, the Pakistan Meteorological Department cautioned that urban and flash flooding could occur from July to September in the north parts of the country.

Does Pakistan flood every year? ›

Pakistan is no stranger to floods or earthquakes or other natural disasters and experiences a monsoon season every year. For some, Pakistan has not invested enough in climate-resilient infrastructure while for others, there is no way that Pakistan could have been prepared for this massive flooding.

Why Pakistan is most affected by climate change? ›

For example, between 1998-2018 Pakistan reported more than 150 extreme weather events. In 2022 catastrophic floods hit the country. The main causes were increased precipitation and glaciers melting fueled by climate change. One third of the country was under water.

Why Pakistan is affected by climate change? ›

But Pakistan has something else making it susceptible to climate change effects - its immense glaciers. The northern region is sometimes referred to as part of the 'third pole' - it contains more glacial ice than anywhere in the world outside of the polar regions. As the world warms, glacial ice is melting.

How is climate change linked to flooding? ›

A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture. In fact, for every degree of warming the atmosphere can hold around 7% more moisture. More moisture can then mean that more rainfall comes in short, intense downpours. This can increase the risk of flash flooding.

What causes flood in Pakistan 2022? ›

Since June 14, 2022, floods in Pakistan have killed 1,678 people. The floods were caused by heavier than usual monsoon rains and melting glaciers that followed a severe heat wave, all of which are linked to climate change.

What is the climatic condition of Pakistan? ›

Four seasons are recognized: 1) a cool, dry winter from December to February; 2) a hot, dry spring from March through May; 3) the summer rainy season, also known as the southwest monsoon period, occurring from June to September; and 4) the retreating monsoons from October to November.

When was the worst flood in Pakistan? ›

In September 2012, more than 100 people were killed, and thousands of homes destroyed, with thousands of acres of arable land affected when flooding affected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, southern Punjab and northern Sindh, resulting from monsoon rains.

How did the flood happen in Pakistan? ›

Torrential monsoon rains triggered the most severe flooding in Pakistan's recent history, washing away villages and leaving around 3.4 million children in need of assistance and at increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition.

How did the flood of 2010 affect the people and environment? ›

The 2010 monsoon flood disaster in Pakistan was massive and unprecedented, killing more than 1,700 persons, affecting over 20 percent of the land area, more than 20 million people, and causing loss of billions of dollars through damages to infrastructure, housing, agriculture and livestock, and other family assets.

How can we control floods in Pakistan? ›

The construction of dams is the best ways to prevent floods. Dams can help regulate water flow by storing water in reservoirs and reducing the risk of downstream flooding. In Pakistan, the Tarbela Dam and the Mangla Dam are only the two largest and most important flood-prevention structures.

What is water crisis in Pakistan? ›

Pakistan's water crisis is explained mainly by rapid population growth followed by climate change (floods and droughts), poor agricultural sector water management, inefficient infrastructure and water pollution. This in a result is also aggravating internal tensions between provinces.

Is Pakistan a poor country? ›

Pakistan is among the poorest nations in the world.

Which country is the most affected by climate change? ›

The Germanwatch institute presented the results of the Global Climate Risk Index 2020 during COP25 in Madrid. According to this analysis, based on the impacts of extreme weather events and the socio-economic losses they cause, Japan, the Philippines and Germany are the most affected places by climate change today.

What Pakistan has done for climate change? ›

In 2013, Pakistan launched a National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) and an accompanying implementation framework. It proposes the development of renewables, the imposition of a carbon tax, and the implementation of “green fiscal reforms” to reduce emissions.

How much does Pakistan contribute to climate change? ›

“Pakistan contributes less than 1% of the global greenhouse gas emissions but yet, every year we keep on climbing up the ladder of climate vulnerability. According to the long-term German Watch index, Pakistan is constantly among top 10 climate vulnerable countries.”

How Pakistan encounter the challenges of climate change? ›

Pakistan is also likely to experience frequent occurrence of severe cyclones and storm surges due to rising atmospheric and sea temperatures. These events, accompanied by rising sea levels, could threaten coastal cities such as Karachi, Thatta and Badin.

What impact global climate change will have on the water resources of Pakistan How will it affect inter provincial harmony? ›

Rising temperatures, increasing saltwater intrusion in coastal areas, a growing threat of glacier lake outburst floods, more intense rainfall, and changes in monsoon and winter rainfall patterns are just some of the ways in which climate change is expected to affect Pakistan's hydrologic resources.

What are environmental issues in Pakistan? ›

Major Environmental Issues: Air pollution from industrial units and vehicles, Water pollution from raw sewage, industrial wastes, and agricultural runoff; limited natural fresh water resources; a majority of the population does not have access to potable water; deforestation; soil erosion and desertification.

How does climate change affect flooding and drought? ›

Some climate models find that warming increases precipitation variability, meaning there will be more periods of both extreme precipitation and drought. This creates the need for expanded water storage during drought years and increased risk of flooding and dam failure during periods of extreme precipitation.

What are 6 The main causes of flooding? ›

What Causes Floods?
  • Heavy rainfall resulting from tropical weather disturbances.
  • Deforestation.
  • Improper agricultural practices.
  • Inadequate design of drainage channels and structures.
  • Inadequate maintenance of drainage facilities, blockage by debris brought by flood waters.
  • Construction of settlements in flood plains.

How many people does Pakistan floods affect? ›

Of the 32 million people displaced by the floods, it is estimated that some 650,000 are pregnant, and more than 70,000 are expected to deliver their babies this month. This is a huge number, but the health facilities in flood-affected districts cannot function as they should.

How much of Pakistan is under water? ›

One-third of Pakistan is underwater. Satellite images from NASA and the European Space Agency show the Indus River spilling beyond its banks, encroaching into nearby agricultural fields, and merging with Hamal Lake (30 miles away) to form one massive lake more than six miles wide and 60 miles long.

How can floods be prevented? ›

10 measures to prevent flooding in cities.
  1. Create a 'sponge city' ...
  2. Green roofs/rooftop gardens. ...
  3. Create flood plains and overflow areas for rivers. ...
  4. Separating rainwater from the sewer system. ...
  5. Install water infiltration and attenuation systems. ...
  6. Keep the sewer system clean, so it can do its job.
26 Aug 2016

Which weather season is now in Pakistan? ›

Pakistan has 4 seasons: a cool, dry winter from December through February. A hot, dry spring from March through May. The summer rainy season, or southwest monsoon period, is from June through September. And, the retreating monsoon period of October and November.

What are 5 interesting facts about Pakistan? ›

Pakistan has the fourth largest irrigation system in the world (Indus Basin). World's second largest salt mines (Khewra Mines) are located in Pakistan. The world's famous pink Himalayan salt is also mined in Pakistan. The highest polo ground in the world is in Shandur, Pakistan.

In which zone Pakistan is located on the basis of climate explain? ›

Pakistan lies in the temperate zone. The climate is generally arid, characterized by hot summers and cool or cold winters, and wide variations between extremes of temperature at given locations. There is little rainfall.

How many people died in flood in Pakistan? ›

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Unprecedented floods that have submerged huge swathes of Pakistan have killed nearly 1,500 people, data showed on Thursday, as authorities said hundreds of thousands of people were still sleeping in the open air after the disaster.

Where did the flood come from? ›

The Flood first entered the galaxy from the Large Magellanic Cloud at the edge of the Milky Way roughly 110,000 years ago, contained in cylinders in unmanned vessels where they were kept as a powder.

Why do floods happen? ›

Floods are the most frequent type of natural disaster and occur when an overflow of water submerges land that is usually dry. Floods are often caused by heavy rainfall, rapid snowmelt or a storm surge from a tropical cyclone or tsunami in coastal areas.

In which areas of Pakistan flood affected? ›

Some 1,600 km of roads damaged or destroyed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa within the last week. High flood risks remain along parts of the Indus River, notably between Taunsa in Punjab and Kotri in Sindh.

Where do floods happen in the world? ›

Where Do Floods Occur? River floodplains and coastal areas are the most susceptible to flooding, however, it is possible for flooding to occur in areas with unusually long periods of heavy rainfall. Bangladesh is the most flood prone area in the world.

How many states does Pakistan have? ›

The administrative units of Pakistan comprise four provinces, one federal territory, and two disputed territories: the provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan; the Islamabad Capital Territory; and the autonomous territories of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan.

What are impact of floods? ›

Loss of human life. Property and infrastructure damage. Road closures, erosion, and landslide risks. Crop destruction and livestock loss.

What are the worst floods in history? ›

List
Death tollEventLocation
229,0001975 Banqiao Dam failure and floodsChina
145,0001935 Yangtze floodChina
(up to) 100,000The flood of 1099Netherlands & England
up to 100,0001911 Yangtze river floodChina
106 more rows

How is Pakistan affected by the monsoons? ›

The summer monsoon provides 65 to 75 percent of annual water in Pakistan, playing an important role in farming and the livelihoods of residents. But exceptional rainfall rates have made this season a “monsoon on steroids,” said António Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations.

Are floods due to climate change? ›

More precipitation falling as rain

In colder areas, especially mountainous or high-latitude regions, climate change affects flooding in additional ways. In these regions, many of the largest historical floods have been caused by snowmelt.

When did flood came in Pakistan? ›

It is the world's deadliest flood since the 2017 South Asian floods and described as the worst in the country's history. On 25 August, Pakistan declared a state of emergency because of the flooding. The government of Pakistan has estimated losses worth US$40 billion from the flooding.

What is the current state of climate change 2022? ›

The 2018–2022 global mean temperature average (based on data up to May or June 2022) is estimated to be 1.17 ± 0.13 °C above the 1850–1900 average. A La Niña event has had a slight cooling effect on temperatures in 2021/22 but this will be temporary.

What is the Pakistan government doing about climate change? ›

Pakistan has recently launched an “Eco-System Restoration Fund” for supporting nature-based solutions to climate change and facilitating the transition towards environmentally resilient initiatives, covering afforestation and biodiversity conservation.

How does climate change make floods worse? ›

As warmer temperatures cause more water to evaporate from the land and oceans, changes in the size and frequency of heavy precipitation events may in turn affect the size and frequency of river flooding (see the Heavy Precipitation indicator).

How does climate change lead to floods? ›

A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture. In fact, for every degree of warming the atmosphere can hold around 7% more moisture. More moisture can then mean that more rainfall comes in short, intense downpours. This can increase the risk of flash flooding.

How does climate change affect flooding and drought? ›

Some climate models find that warming increases precipitation variability, meaning there will be more periods of both extreme precipitation and drought. This creates the need for expanded water storage during drought years and increased risk of flooding and dam failure during periods of extreme precipitation.

When was the worst flood in Pakistan? ›

In September 2012, more than 100 people were killed, and thousands of homes destroyed, with thousands of acres of arable land affected when flooding affected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, southern Punjab and northern Sindh, resulting from monsoon rains.

How did the flood happen in Pakistan? ›

Torrential monsoon rains triggered the most severe flooding in Pakistan's recent history, washing away villages and leaving around 3.4 million children in need of assistance and at increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition.

How many people does Pakistan floods affect? ›

Of the 32 million people displaced by the floods, it is estimated that some 650,000 are pregnant, and more than 70,000 are expected to deliver their babies this month. This is a huge number, but the health facilities in flood-affected districts cannot function as they should.

What are the 5 effects of climate change? ›

Effects of Climate Change
  • Hotter temperatures. As greenhouse gas concentrations rise, so does the global surface temperature. ...
  • More severe storms. ...
  • Increased drought. ...
  • A warming, rising ocean. ...
  • Loss of species. ...
  • Not enough food. ...
  • More health risks. ...
  • Poverty and displacement.

What are the main threats of climate change? ›

The main threats of climate change, stemming from the rising temperature of Earth's atmosphere include rising sea levels, ecosystem collapse and more frequent and severe weather. Rising temperatures from human-caused greenhouse gas emissions affects planet-wide systems in various ways.

What are the 5 cause of climate change? ›

Five key greenhouse gases are CO2, nitrous oxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, and water vapor. While the Sun has played a role in past climate changes, the evidence shows the current warming cannot be explained by the Sun.

Which country is most affected by climate change? ›

Many organisations charged with ranking the countries most affected by climate change top their lists with countries like Japan and Germany.
...
10 of the countries most affected by climate change
  • Afghanistan. ...
  • Bangladesh. ...
  • Chad. ...
  • Haiti. ...
  • Kenya. ...
  • Malawi. ...
  • Niger. ...
  • Pakistan.
4 Jul 2022

How does Pakistan mitigate climate change? ›

The PTI government made significant strides in their efforts to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change such as committing to having 60% of energy coming from “clean” sources and to having electric vehicles making up 30% of the market by 2030.

Videos

1. Can Pakistan handle the worst flooding in decades? | Inside Story
(Al Jazeera English)
2. Are rich nations responsible for Pakistan’s Floods?
(The Newsmakers)
3. WION Climate Tracker: Nearly a third of Pakistan is under water; 33 million affected due to floods
(WION)
4. Pakistan struggles to cope with worst monsoon floods in decades | DW News
(DW News)
5. Pakistan flooding expected to increase in worst affected areas | DW News
(DW News)
6. Pakistan, U.N. seek international aid amid catastrophic flooding that displaced millions
(PBS NewsHour)

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