At least 150 killed in Pakistan’s flash floods

Within a month, rains have partially or fully damaged over 1000 houses, including five bridges, and power stations across the country. Meanwhile, parts of the country also suffer from a lack of potable water

July 13, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Flooding in Pakistan (Image via @thandojo on Twitter)

In less than a month, continuous rain in Pakistan has killed more than 150 people, triggering flash floods and affecting millions more. The National Disaster Management Authority estimated that 91 women and children were among the dead. The rains have partially or fully damaged over 1000 houses, including five bridges, and power stations across the country.

Civil society members including activists and journalists have blamed state authorities for compounding the disaster. The situation in Karachi, the southern port city and major economic hub is dire, with residents saying they had to abandon their cars to wade through waist-high waters. As Dawn reported, “the lower middle class and the poor have suffered the most from urban flooding.”

As the meteorological office predicts more rain in the immediate future, authorities have deployed paramilitary troops to help clean the drains and evacuate affected people. The downpour as well as subsequent flash floods have left hundreds of others homeless. Pre-monsoon rains first wreaked havoc in the southern province of Balochistan in mid-June, where at least 65 people have died in the past month in the economically underdeveloped province. 

The country has also faced severe drought-like conditions, especially a shortage of potable water, with temperatures as high as 50 degrees in Sindh’s Jacobabad and glacial lake outburst floods in Khyber Pakhtoonkha’s Hunza this May. The extreme spell of hot and dry weather has affected the cultivation of wheat, rice and mangoes.

This June, the Ministry of Climate Change warned that Pakistan is one of the top 23 countries experiencing a severe drought emergency. Researchers predict that the country is heading towards becoming the most water-stressed country in the South Asian region by 2025.

Meanwhile, officials stressed that the downpour recorded this summer was twice as heavy as the average. Many experts and environment activists like Ahmad Rafay Alam are putting the blame on climate change, coupled with ill-planned mega projects such as the Margalla Hill stadium, the power plant in Thar, and the expressway on the Malir greenbelt. 

With the government’s poor urban planning, millions of people, especially the marginalized labor class and lower middle class people, suffer the results of flooding, mass displacement and continuous water scarcity.