Unprecedented heavy downpour since mid-June 2022 has severely affected Balochistan, Sindh, Gilgit Baltistan (GB), Punjab, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provinces of Pakistan. According to the official figures (NDMA, SIT-REP No.075) the floods have killed 246 women, 522 men and 399 children between June 14 and August 31, 2022. The international research agencies claim that the devastation caused by the floods have cost over USD4 billion in the current fiscal year. Sindh is worst affected by the floods. Provincial Disaster Management Authority Sindh claims 422 have lost their lives.
The official statistics on loss of life and infrastructure in crises are underestimated. The on-ground situation is usually more terrible. Therefore, it would be too early to assess losses from the floods.
Pakistan experiences floods of low or high magnitude almost every other year. Yet disaster management has not been taken seriously, neither by the federal nor provincial disaster management authorities, established with national consensus through the National Disaster Management Ordinance in 2006.
Pakistan set up its first disaster management system in 1958, followed by the emergency relief cell in 1971 and federal relief commission in 2006. The country needed to establish the NDMA soon after the earthquake in 2005.
According to the NDMA, 73,894 people have died and 129,305 injured in earthquakes between 2005 and 2016. About 4,205 people have lost their lives and 40 million people have been severely affected by floods.
Pakistan should consider the ongoing crisis caused by the relentless rains as a national responsibility. It should be coped with effectively and efficiently, to reduce risks, loss of lives and national resources.
Droughts have caused 3,941 deaths and affected 4.5 million people of the country. Figures released by Relief Web show that agriculture suffered 81.07 million tonnes of loss, amounting to Rs56.50 billions worth of losses to the national economy. The livestock sector faced loss to the national economy worth Rs15,070 millions and affected 23.51 million of livestock population in the country.
With the passage of time, the world has become a global village. Since every country of the world faces natural or man-made tragedies regularly, it was unanimously decided to establish a specialized agency by the United Nations. Thus the United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) was formed to push prone regions and countries to improve their capacities in reducing risks and losses.
Pakistan has faced some of the highest disaster risk levels in the world, ranked 18 out of 191 countries by the 2019 Inform Risk Index. This risk is driven particularly by the nation’s exposure to earthquakes and internal conflicts.
Disaster response may provide the country an opportunity to gain sympathies of the affectees. If the government institutions fail to respond and manage disasters, the informal institutions, such as madrassas step into action. Currently more than 17,000 madrassas exist in the country and they possess effective network and skills to manage community services.
Pakistan lags behind in managing disasters. The disaster response in the country is mostly dependent on foreign funding. However, it is not the best ways to cope with disasters. The response to disasters should be based on the national interest and should be considered a security task.
Likewise, Pakistan should consider the ongoing crisis caused by the relentless rains as a national responsibility. It should be coped with effectively and efficiently, to reduce risks, loss of lives and national resources.