Floods in Pakistan and Government Response

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Pakistan has been regularly witnessing severe floods during monsoon seasons for the last decade. Since 2010, hundreds of people have lost their lives and millions of them have been affected by these floods.

In 2003, Sindh province was badly affected when monsoon rainfall caused flooding in the province. Thatta district was the worst hit where 404 millimetres (15.9 in) rainfall caused flash floods in the district. At least 484 people died and some 4,476 villages in the province were affected.

In June 2007, heavy rainfall in Sindh and Baluchistan caused floods across both provinces, which resulted in displacement of 377,000 people and affected approximately 2.5 million more. Around 815 people died in both provinces due to flash flood. Apart from this, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa was affected by melting glaciers and heavy rainfall in July and August which caused flooding in the province. Almost 152 people died and thousands of people displaced in the province.

After 2007, once again Pakistan faced devastating flood in 2010. According to UNDP report, in 2010 Pakistan experienced the worst floods since independence. Around 21 million people were affected and 1800 people were killed across the country. The flood destroyed nearly 270,000 acres of cropland in the province of Punjab.

In mid-august 2011, flood again hit different parts of Pakistan. At least 361 people were killed and more than 5 million people were affected across the country. Floods affected Sindh province severely and to some extent Baluchistan as well. As a result, almost 1.8 million people were rendered homeless and more than 2.1 million acres of crops were destroyed. Overall, the country faced agricultural loss of 2 billion dollar in this disaster.

In September 2012, Pakistan once again experienced flood which destroyed thousands of homes. More than 100 people died and thousands of acres of arable land were affected in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, Southern Punjab, and Upper Sindh.

In August 2013, heavy monsoon rains triggered flash floods and caused widespread losses and damages across the country. At least 234 people died and 1.5 million people were affected. Besides this, 5615 villages were affected, 20312 houses were destroyed, and 1.5 million acres of crops affected all over the country.

Once again in 2014, Pakistan was hit by the heavy rains and floods which caused massive disaster in different parts of the country. So far, 226 people lost their lives. Flood has caused massive disaster in Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, and most populous province Punjab. It is premature to estimate the full affects of disaster. It is estimated that flood (around 700 thousands cusecs) will hit Sindh in coming days. According to Chief Meteorologist, Guddu and Sukkur is likely to attain high to very high flood level on 14th and 15th September 2014.

Jhelum and Chenab rivers at their devastating peaks will meet at Trimu Headworks in Jhang in 24 to 48 hours. According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department’s website, the barrage will have exceptionally high flood level until Sept 12. At 6 pm on Monday 8 September, it had a flow of 224,000 cusecs. At present level, Chenab and Jhelum rivers have already started inundating Massan and Chela areas of Tehsil Jhang. Thereby, sixty villages have come under six to ten feet of water.

Southern Punjab and Sindh will experience devastating flood in coming days. Government has failed to respond effectively to this disaster. Both federal and provincial governments have failed to implement policy to cope such kind of disasters caused by heavy rain and flood. Even National Disaster management authority (NDMA) is not working pro-actively to forecast and make necessary arrangement to avoid massive disaster in the country. Current flood has caused huge setback to growth and development of sectors such as agriculture, local industry, dairy forming, and transport. It has also badly affected the transmission lines of the power supply which has resulted in number of casualties across the country. Flood and land sliding have badly damaged the roads which have disconnected number of villages and towns from the rest of areas in the country particularly in Punjab and Kashmir.

In nutshell, the response of the federal and provincial agencies has disappointed the citizens. Both federal and provincial governments along with NMDA have failed to take preventative as well as remedial measures to contain the affects of floods. Their response is inadequate to the current disaster. The absence of local governments, which could provide some respite, has added insult to injury. The government failure to hold local bodies’ elections has now come to surface. It is high time that the government gets into the process of holding local body elections so that these bodies can help the local community to counter such disasters in future. Beside this, federal and provincial government and NDMA should assess the situation and take remedial measure for the future.

Every passing moment, flood is affecting villages, destroying houses, displacing people, and killing people in the different parts of the country. Therefore, we have to wait for couple of days to see the clear picture of this massive disaster when rivers return to their natural flow.