Super Floods 2022

Flooding in Pakistan, caused by the heaviest rainfall in more than three decades, has killed more than 1,200 people including 400 children since June and caused more than $10 billion in damage. The extreme weather following some of the hottest temperatures in South Asia is a climate disaster. Many neighborhoods are starting to look like they are part of the ocean. Pakistan received almost 190% more rainfall than its 30-year average in the June-August quarter of this year, totaling 390.7 mm (15.38 inches). July was the region’s wettest month since 1961. The province of Sindh, with a population of 50 million, was the hardest hit, with 466% more rainfall than the 30-year average. Large rivers like the Indus flooded, turning the lowlands around them into swamps. Satellite images show that part of the state looks like an inland sea, with only trees and elevated roads visible. Rising surface temperatures across Asia over the past 100 years have resulted in more intense, more frequent, and longer-lasting heat waves. Pakistan experienced record high temperatures this year after a series of heatwaves in April and May. The prolonged melting of Himalayan glaciers, already exacerbated by this year’s record heat wave, has caused flash floods in Pakistan as more water flows down hills throughout the summer, contributing to massive flooding. Pakistan has more than 7,200 glaciers, as said, more than anywhere outside the polar regions. These sources of river water supply about 75% of the country’s water reserves. Melting glaciers is another effect of global warming. When climate change reduces snowfall and warms summer temperatures, glaciers are unable to regain their lost mass and shrink. With over 220 million people, Pakistan faces arguably the greatest humanitarian crisis. Monsoon rains began in her mid-June, and by the end of August, had killed nearly 1,200 people. More than a third of her land is still under water, affecting at least 33 million of her people. The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) puts the number of affected districts at 72 out of 160 total of 700,000 animals, often the only livelihood for people. The southern state of Sindh remains the worst affected. On August 30, the NDMA said at least 405 people, including 160 children, had died there. More than 14 million people in the state are ‘severely affected’, of which only 377,000 currently live in camps. Pakistan has sought help from the international community including the IMF. A $1.16 billion injection could help free up enough money to weather the country for years to come, but the floods themselves caused more than $10 billion in damage and the return from this loan will be negligible as it will only end up increasing Pakistan’s debt to $255 billion. One begins to wonder if this calamity could have been contained and if reliance on debt is the only solution. The state of affairs in Pakistan is a result of years of mismanagement, corruption, and neglect. The world’s largest irrigation system, the Indus Valley is another monument to massive investments with roots dating back over 4,000 years. However, like its backbone, Pakistan, the Indus, and its tributaries lack the investment needed to effectively manage natural disaster risks. Some of the key lines of defense against flooding are colonial projects like the massive Sukkur Dam. The Sukkur Dam is a system of dams and canals that divert water from the Indus to irrigate the southern arid He Sindh province. Many are in poor condition due to a lack of investment in maintenance over the years. There is a dispute between the four provinces in Pakistan over the allocation of water and funds. The Tarbela and Mangla reservoirs on either side of Islamabad are so clogged with silt runoff from the Himalayas that they lose their ability to absorb floodwaters and prevent flooding further downstream. Only 57% of Tarbela’s storage capacity is currently available and can become completely clogged with increased silt. The underinvestment that has led to this situation is chronic. Of the 20 largest economies in the world by population, only Egypt has a lower total investment rate than Pakistan. This shows that the country is unable to build the necessary infrastructure to support its growing population. With the rising costs of climate change impacts, more and more money is being spent simply on recovery and post-disaster recovery rather than the long-term investments needed to protect the nation from future natural disasters.

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