Pakistan Grappling with Worst Flooding in Recent History

Many millions impacted . . .

Pakistan, which is home to the highest number of glaciers outside the polar regions, is facing one of the worst bouts of flooding in its recent history. More than 33 million people residing in 110 out of the country’s 150 districts have been severely affected by floods, landslides, and glacial-lake outbursts. At least one million homes have been wiped out, and more than 500,000 people are now in displacement camps. This climate catastrophe is the biggest disaster the country has faced since the ‘superflood’ in 2010, which affected 20 million people and claimed more than 2,000 lives. According to Pakistan’s finance minister, the floods have resulted in a loss of at least C$13 billion thus far.

International community sends aid . . .

Despite contributing to less than one per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change. With unseasonably wet monsoons putting Pakistan at the centre of the fight against climate change, the international community has come together to provide aid and relief. The United Nations has allocated C$3.9 million for UN aid agencies and their partners to respond to the floods. Friendly countries like China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and the UAE, among others, have also ramped up aid and relief efforts, and the United States has earmarked C$39.3 million for humanitarian assistance. According to Indian officials, Pakistan has refused India’s help to provide immediate support and resources.

What's next?

For Pakistan, the next disaster will not be the monsoon season but the immediate food insecurity, internal displacement, and the public health crisis that will follow these floods. Since 2018, the Green Climate Fund and the United Nations Environment Programme have collaborated with Pakistan’s Ministry of Climate Change to develop National Adaptation Plans to build resilience to climate change. In 2022, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature collaborated with the Pakistani government to launch its first-ever Climate Change Gender Action Plan, which aimed at strengthening the resilience of women and girls in the face of climate-related impacts. These plans can only be successful if Pakistan’s domestic politics are stable and actively working to reduce mismanagement and corruption in the country. To this effect, Pakistan will need to heed the advice of experts and accept technical assistance to develop structurally sound disaster management systems.