standard Flood alleviation efforts in Pakistan

While international aid and assistance continues to be provided to Pakistan, the country is still devastated and only beginning to recover from the worst flooding it has experienced in history.  The World Bank and Asian Development Bank have promised $3 billion USD in ‘soft loans’ and countries throughout the world have provided significant aid, including China who have been dealing with their own severe flood hazards and landslides.  But the big question is whether the government will use incoming aid wisely.

Across Pakistan, nearly 2m houses have been damaged or destroyed, including over 1.1m in Sindh province, where the worst flooding remains. Over 5,000km (3,000 miles) of roads and 7,000 schools have been affected. More than 200,000 livestock have drowned.

The Economist

During the aftermath of the disaster that has affected ‘over 20 million people’ in Pakistan there are of course questions regarding what could have been done to manage intense flooding in Pakistan this summer. According to SciDev.Net , some researchers have criticised the lack of any disaster management and dissemination strategy for utilising collected flood data in Pakistan.  A 24-hour warning system that provides flood forecasting data is in place and there are many agencies that were involved in collecting flood data including: The Pakistan Meteorological Department, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), and the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO).  It seems that with as many agencies dedicated to analysing flood hazards in Pakistan a more concerted effort could be made to design strategies to mitigate flooding.  But in dealing with a flood that inundated one-fifth of the country, it is difficult to say whether any government, no matter how developed their infrastructure and communications systems may be could manage or mitigate flooding of this magnitude entirely.  Other than mitigation, which is not always possible, disaster management strategies should also include how people can better live with these hazards in order to prevent loss of life and to rebuild their communities.

Below is the most recent weather advisory given by the Pakistan Meteorological Department:

Yesterday’s monsoon weather system has moved westward during last 24 hrs, located over western parts of India (Madhya Pradesh), and has maintained its intensity so far. This weather system will continue to move further in westerly direction, towards southern parts of Pakistan during next 18-24 hrs. Under the influence of this weather system, monsoon currents are penetrating in eastern parts of the country.

There have been reports of further inundation in Sindh, so despite lack of recent global media attention on the flood hazards in Pakistan, people are still at risk in areas where more flooding could take place.

This image taken by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) taken over the city of Sukkur, Pakistan 18 August provide an idea of the full magnitude of the disaster.  The urban areas are in grey.

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