The ‘super flood’ threat

The July 2010 floods in Pakistan alone caused an estimated $9.7 billion in damages

Editorial March 21, 2019

Floods in Pakistan are more of a man-made tragedy than the wrath of the nature. Instead of preparing in advance, we are known to act in the aftermath, in a haphazard way. It is, in fact, the disaster itself that rouses the authorities concerned from their deep and peaceful slumber – and that too very temporarily. A perennial lack of funds for coping with natural disasters – by taking preventive steps and dealing with the damage done – is also what makes natural calamities in Pakistan even more destructive in comparison with those in other parts of the world.

With the glacial melting, triggered by global warming, emerging as a driving force behind floods in Pakistan in recent times, the need for a comprehensive disaster management strategy has become all the more essential for avoiding the huge economic and social costs that come in the form of loss of property, livestock and crops, apart from precious human lives. With the country having been treated with higher than normal snowfall this past season, Pakistan is in for a ‘super flood’ during the coming monsoon season, according to two senior government officials.

The officials have told the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Water Resources that chances of a big flood were relatively higher this year due to higher-than-normal snow deposits on mountains and catchments of major rivers. While trying to make a case for the release of at least Rs15 billion for flood protection activities, they insisted that effective preparedness would be required to minimise damage from possible flooding in the country.

According to the World Bank, the July 2010 floods in Pakistan alone caused an estimated $9.7 billion in damage to infrastructure, farms, homes, as well as other direct and indirect losses. This shows that the funds being sought for flood protection are very little as compared to the damage caused by flooding in the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2019.

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