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Balochistan: From year-long drought to intense floods

Monsoon rains wreaked havoc in Balochistan, killing hundreds and rendering thousands homeless

By Rafiullah Mandokhail |
PUBLISHED August 21, 2022

Fifty-year-old Kamal Din belongs to Killi Toora Dargah near the Waziristan border in Balochistan's northeastern district of Zhob. His three minor daughters were swept away in the flash flood during the recent monsoon rains. One of them was rescued while the rest two drowned and lost their lives.

Belonging to a hand to mouth family, Kamal Din is one of those dozens unfortunate parents whose children drowned or were buried under debris during the recent torrential rains and floods in Balochistan.

Kamal says, the massive and terrifying downpour inundated his entire village and adjacent areas on Waziristan highway in a short span of time.

'Our region falls in the monsoon range, but the rains and floods during this season were more intense as compare to the previous years. In Zhob district over a dozen people have lost their lives and dozens houses have also been reduced to rubble ', says Kamal while tears rolling down his cheeks.

Assistant Commissioner Zhob Jarullah Jalalzai says, beside the human losses and destruction of civic infrastructures, the standing crops of tomato and onion on thousands acres of land have also been affected in the district. According to the administration official, Qamar Din Karez, Abdullahzai, Murgha Kibzai, Gustoi and Badinzai were the worst affected areas.

Meanwhile, relief items and medicines worth Rs 4 million donated by The Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA) and Comprehensive Disaster Response Services (CDRS), provided to the affected people in the Afghan bordering area of Qamar Din Karez distributed among the deserving people. The medicines were handed over to the District Headquarter civil hospital Zhob and Sherani and the Assistant Commissioner Jarullah Jalalzai on behalf of the district administration. The medicines also included 500 dozes of Ciprofloxacin injections.

'I am cordially thankful to the APPNA for showing its generosity for Balochistan in this hour of trail. The recent torrential downpour brought disaster in Pakistan, particularly in poverty-hit Balochistan. Qamar Din Karez area that shares border with Afghanistan - has been badly affected and in worse shape as it was not responded properly by the aid agencies,' expresses pleasure Dr Sheikh Zarak Khan Mandokhail - an alumni member of Bolan Medical College Quetta.

Ex-president APPNA Sajid Chaudhary says, APPNA has provided food and ration packs to hundreds of affected and deserving families as well as medicines for cholera outbreak in the areas devastated by severe flooding in Balochistan. Around 350 food packs distributed in remote areas of Qamar Din Karez, while hundreds more packs have been distributed among the affectees in neighboring Killa Saifullah district.

Commissioner Zhob Division Muhammad Saeed Umrani accompanied by the deputy commissioners has visited the flood-affected areas in Zhob, Sherani and Killa Saifullah districts. He has assured the flood-ravaged people of the division of all possible help in this challenging time.

District Programme Manager, Balochistan Rural Support Programme (BRSP) Quttab Khan Afaqi says, Loralai district experienced year-long drought as the district had been facing water scarcity in the past due to the little rainfall and groundwater depletion. The recent rains and floods have affected the entire district both rural and urban areas instead the people could have a sigh of relief following the torrential rains. Loralai city is surrounded by dry mountains and cabbage and olive are cultivated on vast land in the district.

Zhob district in Balochistan, shares borders with Afghanistan and South Waziristan. The district is one of the largest producers of onion and garlic. The recent natural calamity caused huge financial losses to the growers as the crops and vegetable fields were the only source of their livelihood.

'The floods have inundated our entire agricultural land on the Zhob river bank, submerging standing crops of onion, tomatoes and grapes orchards in Silyaza on the outskirts of Zhob city,' says, Ajab Khan from Killi Takei in Zhob.

'In Pathan Kot area on the outskirt of the city, four members of the same family died when the roof of their mud house caved in due to heavy rains. Another young man also drowned near Loghei dam. Agricultural land, standing crops, water tube wells and the solar energy panels have also been severely damaged. Dargei dam also swept away in the recent floods,' he adds.

Balochistan has witnessed torrential rains since June, leading to flash floods in different parts of the province. Mud houses, bridges and road infrastructures have been dismantled due to the monsoon deluge in over two and half dozen districts of the province.

The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) in a recent report states that the torrential rains and flash floods resulted in the death of at least 207 people and displacement of thousands other - already living below the poverty line. Out of total 34 districts in Balochistan, 31 districts have been affected by heavy torrential rains and floods from mid-June till the first week of August. Out of 31 districts 9 have been worst affected. 90 families have been paid 1 Rs million as a compensation amount.

'Out of the total, 96 men, 48 women and 58 children lost their lives while 81 others have sustained injuries in different rain-related incidents in different parts of the province including the provincial capital Quetta, Killa Saifullah, Lasbela, Zhob, Duki, Loralai, Bolan, Chaman, Khuzdar, Dera Bugti, Kohlu, Barkhan, Mastung, Harnai, Pishin, Jaffarabad, Kalat and Sibi districts,' the provincial disaster management agency report reveals.

The report further states that around 22 thousand houses have been destroyed while 40,000 partially damaged, 18 bridges have been collapsed, six highways and around 690 kilometers long roads damaged after the rains that disconnected the districts. Moreover, 23 thousand cattle have also been swept away in the floods. The floods also affected standing crops on 200,000 acres of land beside the heavy damages to the water sources, tube wells and solar energy systems across the province.

Zhob-Dera Islamail highway connecting Balochistan with Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa has been closed since Aug 17 due to the land sliding in hilly Dhana Sar area.

Deputy Commissioner Sherani Ejaz Ahmed Jaffar claims to have rescued around two thousand stranded passengers taking them to Zhob city.

Engineer Tahir Jan Mandokhail, Director at Agriculture Engineering says, efforts were underway to clear the highway N-50 with the help of heavy machinery as soon as possible. The highway from Khuzdar to Sindh is also closed due to landslides at Vango area, while the route from Balochistan to Punjab via Dera Ghazi Khan has also been cut off due to landslides at Fort Munro.

Deputy Commissioner Killa Abdullah Munir Ahmed Kakar says, relief and rescue operation is underway in the bordering districts in wake of recent harsh spell of devastating rains. Some families who got stuck in their houses surrounded by the flood water have been rescued and evacuated.

Syed Rasool Musakhail is resident of Musakhail deistic. He says, ten people have lost their lost lives during recent spell of monsoon rains. The bridges have been swept away and the link road have also been damaged. Musakhail has been cut off with Dera Ghazi khan.

In the resolution passed by the Balochistan Assembly on Monday regarding the damages, the federal government has been demanded 50 to 60 billion rupees to compensate the damages in Balochistan.

Kalat division was badly affected by the floods which caused massive destruction in Lasbela, Khuzdar and Mastung districts. According to the district administration, floods following the monsoon rains have claimed 19 lives in Lasbela district alone. In the district, thousands cattle belonging to the farmers of the rural areas have been washed away in the flood channels. The rains caused damages to houses in Winder, Kanraj and Bela areas where standing cotton and other crops have been badly affected.

Nizam-ud-Din Kakar is resident of Muslim Bagh tehsil of the Killa Saifullah district says, standing crops and orchards have been destroyed by the floods and people have been deprived of their livelihood. 'Irrigation channels, water supply schemes, tube wells and solar panels have also been severely damaged due to the rains,' he adds.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif along with Chief Minister Balochistan Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo and the federal ministers also visited the worst affected area in the northeastern Balochistan. Chairman NDMA Lt. Gen. Akhtar Nawaz briefed the prime minister about the relief operations and damages incurred by the torrential rains. The premier went to the camp set up for the flood affectees and reviewed the relief operations and also interacted with the flood-affected displaced people in Pashto language, living in the tents inquiring about the facilities being provided to them at the camp.

Addressing the cheques distribution ceremony among the affectees during his day-long visit to the most affected Khusnob area in Killa Saifullah, he reiterated that the federal government in collaboration with the provincial government had been making all-out efforts to help the flood affected people in this hour of trial.

'The financial amount is not meant to substitute for the human losses but it is the duty and core responsibility of the government to cater to the needs of affected people,' the PM assures.

Although the rescue and relief operation in flood-hit districts continued for weeks, yet the people in many far-off areas are still waiting for relief from the provincial government and the aid agencies. Some affected areas are yet to be responded properly. Social media reports from different areas also paint a grim picture as poor and unfortunate people are still reeling from the devastation left behind by flood and torrential rains.

On the other hand, the PDMA officials and the local administration claim that the government was making all out efforts to provide maximum relief to the affected people. The provincial government has demanded funds from the international organizations for assistance.

Meanwhile, in Balochistan the Livestock and Dairy Development department has organized a series of free veterinary medical camps in different far-off areas of the province to provide medical facilities to the affected animals in the rain-hit areas. Thousands of small, medium and large animals have been vaccinated so far and free medicines have also been provided to the farmers. It has been demanded that feeds should be provided for the affected livestock in the flood-hit areas, as the fodder of the livestock has also been severely damaged by the torrential rains and floods as well.

The PDMA recent report alerted that there is a possibility of heavy rains with thundershowers from August 10 to 14 in Killa Saifullah, Loralai, Barkhan Kohlu, Musakhail, Sherani, Sibi, Dera Bugti, Bolan and Kalat. There may also be a flood situation. Apart from this, there is a fear of floods in Khuzdar, Lasbela, Awaran, Kharan, Turbat, Panjgur, Harnai and Sorab districts of Balochistan.


Rafiullah Mandokhail is a freelance writer. All information and facts provided are the sole responsibility of the writer.