The Most Disastrous Floods in Pakistan’s History


The current Prime Minister of Pakistan commented, “I can say without any fear of contradiction that this flood situation is probably the worst situation in the history of Pakistan.”

The situation is bleak. At the start of summer, Pakistan had to face severe heat waves. A total of four heatwaves debilitated the country’s agriculture. Wheat ripened too soon, and the sun beat like a merciless whip. We had no idea that devastating floods would follow the hot spell. Here is what happened in the past two months.

How Bad is it?

Sherry Rahman, the Minister for Climate Change, told Reuters that he was worried because a third of the country is underwater. In addition, he implied that flooding of such proportions was “unprecedented.”

The recent flood has badly affected Pakistan. Badly is an understatement because the deluge displaced some 500,000 Pakistanis, of which many did not have anywhere to go. While numerous others were transferred to displacement camps

About 33 million people are affected by floods, which is precisely 15% of the country’s total population. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari told Reuters that the number is larger than the populations of Sri Lanka and Australia.

It destroyed 1 million homes, with 807,000 damaged in Sindh, 61,500 in Balochistan, over 33,200 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and 45,300 in Punjab. Some 900,000 farm animals have died, and an estimated 1,350 people, of which around 380 were children. These are only the reports of the found bodies. Who knows how many may lie under the mud? In the northern tourist spots of Pakistan, around 300 people are left stranded, locals and tourists.

Source: UN OCHA. Image Credit: BBC

Without houses and a lack of displacement camps, many had to stand at higher altitudes under the naked sky. Like ants, many videos show hundreds of people witnessing their houses swept away as they stand on mountains. It would be a lucky sight to spot a thatched roof or a tree top for miles. Everything is so engulfed in water that it resembles a “mini-ocean,” as told by Sherry Rahman.

Of the 160 districts, 72 were affected by the flood. Pakistan has never experienced such rains in the past thirty years. But the recent monsoon rains reached 15.5 inches due to 190% increased rains from July to August.

While many cities were affected, Sindh was most severely shaken. The 3rd largest province of Pakistan received a 466% increase in rain in two months that it had not received in the past thirty years. Balochistan also received nigh 450% more rain, submerging parts of the province.

Pakistan is a developing country and has its fair share of underprivileged cities. Jacobabad, Bhambro, Gudpur in Punjab, and districts like Dadu were the epicenters of massive damages. The farmers had to deal with the pain of seeing whole crops wiped away. Secondly, years’ worth of belongings were destroyed in the blink of an eye.

The Indus River before the flood.
The Indus River after the flood.

The Advent of Diseases

Such impoverished towns and districts do not have the medical facilities to cope with the consequent diseases. Floods and other such calamities bring forth unsanitary illnesses. Lacking the proper necessities can lead to cholera, skin rashes, malaria, scabies, gastroenteritis, and many more formidable outbreaks.

Children are more at risk of contracting the sicknesses than adults. Consequently, the medical camps set by the ministry of health and UNICEF fall short because of the influx of the affected. Furthermore, the scarcity of resources proves to be another obstacle. A report states that about 800 children have contracted gastroenteritis. They were admitted into JIMS for medication.

Monetary Aid

This leads us to another huge problem. There could not have been a worse time for the flood as it has cost the economy about $10 billion. Know that Pakistan had struck a deal of $1.1 billion with the IMF to bail out their defaults, not a month before.

The premier has appealed to foreign nations for aid. General Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, described the situation as a “monsoon on steroids.” The UN has also appealed for a fund of $160 million. Although the UK, US, and other Arab countries have contributed whole-heartedly, the PM believes that more countries need to participate. That is because the damage of $10 billion cannot be overcome by a mere $160 million.

However, another $30 million is to be Funded by USAID. The UN made this appeal from the United States Agency for International Development. Mr. Sharif also announced $45 million or PKR 9.7 billion in aid to the affected families. Each family will receive Rs. 25,000.

Ahsan Iqbal proclaimed that these floods were worse than the ones in 2010. He also said that, in the coming months, the country would face an acute food shortage.

What Caused the Floods?

The very first thing that comes to mind is climate change. And that was precisely the reason. A report submitted by the World Weather Attribution discovered that the heatwave in Pakistan at the beginning of the year was most likely caused by climate change.

Take a look at Jacobabad. At one point, in the hottest region in the world, with temperatures crossing 50 degrees centigrade, its schools are now displacement camps. An article published by Dawn predicted that if the situation continued like this, Jacobabad would become uninhabited.

Rising temperatures mean more rain. Since the Industrial Revolution, the global temperature has escalated by 1.2 degrees. And with every temperature rise, the atmosphere absorbs 4 to 7% more moisture. Hence, more water equals more rain. What goes in comes out.

This is likely to continue because pollution worsens as more industries open. Remember that the situation in Pakistan is only a glimpse of what lies ahead.