Monsoon rains have wreaked havoc in Balochistan this year. The damage caused by the torrential rains and flash floods have been most pronounced in the rural areas of Lasbela, Jhal Magsi, Kech, Awaran and Khuzdar. Meteorologists forecast that Balochistan may suffer a bigger calamity in August.
The floods this year have killed 136 people and destroyed more than 4,000 homes in the worst-hit Balochistan province alone, said the National Disaster Management Authority. The Authority revealed that around 200,000 acres of land has been affected.
The news is also circulating that the death toll could go up, as many people are missing, displaced and devastated. The rains have inundated the road infrastructure. Many bridges have collapsed and have rendered some areas completely inaccessible. Power supply and communication channels have been disrupted. And worst of all, people are deprived of food and shelter.
“The unprecedented rain recorded after Eidul Azha has added misery to our lives. It has destroyed our means of livelihood. We have no shelter to take refuge in,” tells a flood victim in Lasbela to photographer Kamanchar Baloch. “From district administration to government authorities, every hand of assistance is powerless. We only want someone from the government, local or federal, to visit us and see our sufferings.”
“From district administration to government authorities, every hand of assistance is powerless. We only want someone from the government, local or federal, to visit us and see our sufferings.”
Kamanchar Baloch visited Lasbela where flood victims were forced to abandon their homes and take shelter along roadsides. It was not possible for Baloch and his team to assess the extent of damage caused by the rains this year, as access via roads to far off areas was not possible. The rains have washed out the roads. “We could only manage to connect with a few flood victims. We approached them and ensured them our full support,” he says.
The social workers of the Baloch Yakjehti Committee, in collaboration with other NGOs, such as Ost Welfare Organisation, have managed to collect three truckloads of relief goods for the flood victims.
The saga of Balochistan’s negligence has been long and arduous. This year’s unprecedented rains have further compounded the peoples’ miseries. For instance, Pir Koh has been without water for months. The contaminated water that is available for drinking in Pir Koh has killed a number of people. But neither the federal nor the provincial government has extended support to the Pir Koh residents. Their plight exposes the local government’s poor performance.
Climate experts have been ringing alarm bells about Balochistan’s geological location and increasing effects of climate change. However, no practical planning and strategy has been adopted to counter the climate threat on the official levels. This is a big cause of worry for the province. Changes in monsoon patterns have increased the likelihood of catastrophic floods. After years of low rainfall and drought, the sudden downpour has washed away the already shaky infrastructure in the province.
The brunt of the impact of global climate change is borne by the poorest people in Balochistan. Every year, hundreds of thousands of them have to leave their native drought-hit lands, in search of greener pastures. Erratic monsoons and catastrophic heat waves leave a large-scale cumulative impact on Balochistan’s climate resilience.
The brunt of the impact of global climate change is borne by the poorest people in Balochistan. Every year, hundreds of thousands of them have to leave their native drought-hit lands, in search of greener pastures.
According to a news report published in March 2022, at least 64 dams have been completed in Balochistan to irrigate 25,850 acres of land across the province. The federal government had announced 100 small dams package in Balochistan out of which 64 have been completed while the rest of 36 are near completion. This is indeed welcome news as dams may reduce the chances of drought, and may prevent unexpected rains.
It is perhaps too soon to assess the impact of these dams on people of the province. What we do know for now is that water scarcity is high, and fetching water from different nearby ponds is a major issue. One wonders what is the objective of rural development authorities? So far no organisation has succeeded in reducing economic deprivation, environmental emergency and curbing climate crisis.
The government needs to create a mechanism to curb climate change and control seasonal monsoons. Besides, rural development schemes must be prioritised in rural areas. They should reinforce accessibility to basic requisites particularly in cataclysm situations. A robust strategic policy framework will lead us to a better life.