Pakistan has experienced extreme events of floods triggered by climate change induced monsoon weather since June 2022, with rainfall 67% above the normal levels in that month alone thereby making this year the wettest since 1961. It was a climate catastrophe of unimaginable proportions affecting more than 33 million people with more than 1,355 people dead and 12,722 injured as houses collapsed around them, or they have been washed away in floodwaters.

Subsequently, this article aims to draw the attention of policy makers towards post disaster monitoring, and rehabilitation of people in the disaster hit areas by bringing notice of governments in education, health, infrastructure, and agriculture sectors of the flood affected areas.

Primarily, the recent flood emergency has had a significant impact on the education sector. According to preliminary data from the provincial Education Departments, 18,590 schools have been completely or partially damaged. The data reveals that 15,842 schools in Sindh, 544 in Balochistan, 1,180 in Punjab and 1,024 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are washed away. More than 670,000 children have been affected and at least 5,492 schools are being used to house the displaced families which impedes their day-to-day education. 

The second most noteworthy dilemma of this huge disaster has increased health pressures on pregnant women and exacerbated the existing inequities in maternal and newborn health. Among the millions of severely affected people are at least 650,000 pregnant women, 73,000 of whom are expected to deliver. Many of these women lack access to the healthcare facilities and support they need to deliver their children safely because the floods have blocked roads, washed away homes and completely or partially destroyed health facilities. Most births in rural areas of Pakistan happen at home, and with almost one million homes destroyed, many women do not  know where they will deliver their babies. Childbirth and pregnancy cannot wait till crises or natural disasters have passed. Their lives will be at risk if they cannot access proper maternal health care.

Further, with entire villages washed away, families broken up and many people sleeping under the open sky, the usual social structures that keep people safe have fallen away, which increases the dangers of gender-based violence against women that rises in the wake of a disaster. In addition, there was no mobile network in the flood effected areas throughout Pakistan for about a week or more. Work is in progress for the complete restoration of telecom services, which further impedes the access to safe areas, or to the health facilities on urgent basis. 

Similar to this, the impact of the floods on agriculture growth was far more severe, and the current fiscal year's potential value addition for the sector of over Rs500 billion may not materialize.

Food Inflation is estimated more than 30 per cent for the current fiscal month and more high inflation will be recorded due to increase in food commodity prices, food insecurity, and price hike. Pakistan inflation hit record 47-year high before full impact of flood.  Food prices increased, putting essential necessities out of the grasp of the poor as the cash-strapped nation confronts shortages, severely impacting the agriculture growth objective and services sector. Onions and tomatoes which are common ingredients in most Pakistani meals have been affected the most. The prices of both had increased by 40 percent, according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. Other edible item’s prices rose dramatically as well including cooking oil, meat, eggs. Having the rise in commodity prices, will thus lead the economic crisis further, the poverty and unemployment will increase significantly from 21.9 to over 36 percent. According to the State Bank of Pakistan, the GDP growth for the current fiscal year will be dropped from 5% to 2%.

Faced with these multi-faceted challenges in such a short period of time, humanitarian and relief agencies should have acted and adapted rapidly to mitigate the problems faced by the millions of people who have been impacted in recent weeks.

The NDMA needs to facilitate respective PDMAs for a comprehensive and compact rehabilitation plan. Land use plans of the affected areas need to revisited and guarded from all violations. That will protect the affected population in the long term from natural disaster.

The flash floods’ path ways need to be cleared of all encroachments. High power water trash pumps need to be transported to the sites where water remains stagnant. Helicopter operations and sorties need to be made operational without any delay. The disaster visualized the corruption and negligence of previous governments. Hence, the government should take necessary measures and its high-time we learn from past negligence to prevent sufferings in the future.

Miss Hafsa Sherani is a Research Assistant at Balochistan Think Tank Network.