The monsoons in northern Pakistan are unprecedented. Rain fall is expected to continue into next week. The Indus River, Pakistan’s longest river, is expected to increase tenfold at 1 million cubic feet per second. One of the growing problems is that not only have people’s homes been wiped out, but also crucial health infrastructure needed for medical care. As waterborne diseases spread, emergency medical care is imperative. Sources of drinking water have been contaminated by flood waters carrying decomposing animal and human bodies. Recent statistics from northwest Pakistan on loss of housing and other damages caused by the flooding are of great concern: “55% of communities reported that injured and sick community members are not receiving any medical treatment”.
According to UNICEF, the floods have affected an estimated 3.2 million people, including 1.5 million children. But it seems likely there are more and will continue to be as the flood waters increase. Rivers are continuing to rise rapidly as heavy rains continue causing widespread damage to crops and loss of livestock. UNICEF is raising an emergency fund to help meet the needs of children affected by the intense flooding.
Understanding how torrential rains and flooding impact infrastructure is incredibly important for designing strategies to help countries vulnerable to hazards become more resilient. It seems many recent reports have been silent about the role of climate change in this hazard, but it’s clear that an impact of this magnitude likely involves human-induced climate change. Heavy rainfall at this scale has been known to be a symptom of climate change for some time. It wasn’t long ago that climate researchers were saying that Pakistan would be ‘hit hard’ by climate change.
This video from RT gives a brief glimpse of the impact flooding has had in northern Pakistan:
A televised report from the BBC shows the impact recent flooding has had on some of the infrastructure necessary for survival in northern Pakistan, as aid slowly trickles into the country. Many people are simply left stranded.