On Wednesday night, a tragic incident occurred when a family, en route to Karachi from Hyderabad to attend a wedding ceremony, drowned after their car was swept away by a flash flood into Karachi’s Malir River. Four bodies, including three children, have been recovered as of yet while rescue officials are in search of the remaining three. In a separate incident, an eight-year-old boy who fell into Karachi’s Gujjar Nullah on Friday is feared dead after rescue efforts proved futile. A string of such deadly incidents have occurred recently with many reported casualties, but what do they all have in common?
Unprecedented monsoon rainfall has caused massive flood events in urban and rural areas alike. The ordeal has been aggravated by poor planning and weak infrastructure, creating a vulnerable situation for millions across the country. Here, policymakers and development experts need to understand two separate factors. One, poor planning, cheap raw material, lack of safety precautions and illegal constructions have given rise to many avoidable management and municipal problems. If the Gujjar Nullah had safety walls in place, innocent lives would not have been lost during the rains. Two, all types of existing infrastructure do not account for the adverse effects of climate change such as record-breaking monsoon rains. Thus, they will not be able to sustain unless prudent redevelopment measures are taken. Destruction is inevitable but the challenge facing policymakers is how to soften the blow. Highways, bridges and underpasses must be redesigned in accordance with climate-related disaster events. Lastly, disaster management authorities must be well-equipped to deal with emergencies.
These measures will reduce the threat of climate change and decrease vulnerability in communities. Officials must expect that such a situation will happen on a yearly basis and prepare accordingly. The lives of citizens must be made top-most priority.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2022.
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