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Pakistan’s Flood Disaster Had Everything To Do With Bad Governance

pakistan floods

Water is the most precious natural resource. It is a major driver of ecosystems and life. It is the cradle of civilizations and helped them flourish.

It gives life to barren lands and creates food systems for the survival of humanity and living creatures. It is a source of one of the cleanest and most widely available renewable sources of energy. [bold, links added]

However, the mismanagement of water can turn it into a source of destruction, and Pakistan is a perfect example on this front.

Nature has bestowed Pakistan with the precious resource of water, but the country does not have any parallel to bad governance of the water sector.

On top of that, political parties have politicized the water sector. It is unfortunate that Pakistani politicians are masters at making everything political. They do not have the political wisdom to solve the issues.

Owning to brainless politics, Pakistan is stuck between too much water and no water which has turned Pakistan into the home of water-related disasters for some time.

Pakistan started the 21st century with a severe and prolonged drought from 1999 to 2003. The drought played havoc with the life of people and their livelihoods.

Balochistan, parts of southern Punjab, and Sindh were among the areas worst impacted. It was estimated millions of animals died. It exposed the common and poor people to unbearable losses.

They lost their livelihoods and poverty increased sharply in these areas. Many of them had no option but to migrate to survive the impacts of droughts.

Then in 2010 the country was ravaged by an unprecedented flood. It was followed by a series of floods from 2010 onwards. Floods shattered livelihoods on a massive scale and displaced people on a large scale.

Floods and droughts were tagged to climate change, while the government shed off its responsibilities. The successive government used climate change as a slogan and failed miserably to deliver.

They remained busy pleasing the international players and ignored the local dynamics. The analysis of ground realities identified adaptation as the most urgent required action.

Climate Change Policy 2012 and Framework for Implementation of Climate Change Policy also highlighted the urgency to go for adaptation.

The National Economic and Environment Development Study (NEEDs) of Pakistan produced the same conclusion and provided a comprehensive guideline for actions.

Further, the vulnerability index also supports national studies and policy findings and gives the highest priority to adaptation.

Regrettably, the actions are not reflecting the importance of adaptation urged in the government policies and frameworks. Pakistan is focusing more on mitigation activities like plantation, electric vehicles, etc.

These are good initiatives. It will help Pakistan in long run to meet the emission targets. However, adaptation is direly needed in the context of Pakistan, which is not getting the required attention let alone prioritization.

There is no major drive to push for adaptation, and even the National Action Plan for Adaptation is not ready yet.

Now, we are facing the consequences of ignorance. We ignored climate change and water governance, and now nature is punishing us. Water is back with its full might and power of destruction.

According to the National Disaster Management Authority, about 218,000 houses were completely destroyed and 452,000 damaged.

Further, two million acres of crops and orchids were impacted and 793,900 livestock died. In addition to that, 3,000 km of roads and 145 bridges were damaged. It will not end here.

Pakistan needs to be ready to face the aftermath of floods. Once the water goes down, a new cycle of disasters and challenges will emerge.

First, there is fear of the spread of waterborne diseases and dengue. Children will be more prone to these diseases. Besides, the trauma would be another challenge.

Women’s health will be a major concern as they have specific health requirements. It has been observed that during the floods, women’s needs are ignored, which creates health problems.

Second, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their livelihoods. The economic status of millions of people has been jeopardized by the floods. They will be looking for livelihoods for their revival.

Third, there is a serious threat to the food security of the nation. Floods damaged crops and food reserves all over the country.

Read rest at News International

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