The Platform

Flooded streets in Karachi.

Floods are “Acts of God,” but losses are acts of man. It is evident that Pakistan’s massive flooding will be the defining crisis of our country. After a terrible heat wave in April and May, Pakistan was hit by torrential monsoon rains.

The massive flooding left one-third of the country submerged underwater and killed 1,500 people. The flooding displaced 33 million people. The government estimates the losses in billions of dollars. The flooding impacted the agricultural sector particularly hard, which will lead to malnutrition and untold deaths due to starvation. Pakistan is one of the lowest contributors to climate change but bore the brunt of a changing climate.

The unanticipated change of government in April left Pakistan in a political and constitutional crisis and the massive flooding just made things worse. Poor governance and political instability stand responsible for making the country vulnerable to climatic shocks.

The national poverty rate is expected to increase by 4.7%, pushing 15.4 million people into poverty. Difficulties ranging from waterborne diseases, and lack of shelter, to a lack of clean drinking water will increase the mortality rate.

The utter destruction in Pakistan puts in doubt the ability of a majority of children to attend school. 2.8 million children in Pakistan may not be able to attend school. Smaller rural schools take a long time to develop, hence the ones which were destroyed by flooding can never be rebuilt or will take years to rebuild.

Pakistan’s healthcare system has been utterly devastated, with women’s healthcare in particular under threat. Without proper health services, women will die in increased numbers trying to give birth or newborn babies will die without proper care.

Flooding has transformed even substantial villages into islands, destroying farmlands which was a source of income for the residents.

Outbreaks of cholera, malaria, dengue, and most importantly, starvation will lead to countless deaths. An uncomfortable question being asked is where to bury the dead. Families are struggling to find a place to bury their loved ones. The cemeteries have vanished under mountains of water.

Pakistan has received humanitarian aid, but the larger is: in the long-term, who is going to help Pakistan rebuild in the face of several ongoing global crises?

Alshaima Khalid is studying International Relations at SZABIST in Islamabad, Pakistan.