Natural Disasters in Pakistan
Natural Disasters in Pakistan
One year ago, Pakistan suffered the worst flooding in its history, a slow-moving disaster that left some 2,000 dead and another 11 million homeless. Nearly one million are still without permanent shelter, and meanwhile, the flooding has returned. Though it's not on the same scale as last year's flood, this summer's damage is still significant. High water from monsoon rains has killed more than 200 people since early August 2011, damaging or destroying some 670,000 homes and affecting more than 5 million people, according to the government and the United Nations. The disaster has once again overwhelmed the capacity of the government to assist, and the UN has asked for $357 million in international aid.
2010 Floods in Pakistan:-
The 2010 Pakistan floods began in late July 2010, resulting from heavy monsoon rains in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab andBalochistan regions of Pakistan and affected the Indus River basin. Approximately one-fifth of Pakistan's total land area was underwater, approximately 796,095 square kilometres (307,374 sq mi). According to Pakistani government data the floods directly affected about 20 million people, mostly by destruction of property, livelihood and infrastructure, with a death toll of close to 2,000.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had initially asked for US$460 million (€420 million) for emergency relief, noting that the flood was the worst disaster he had ever seen. Only 20% of the relief funds requested had been received as of 15 August 2010. The U.N. had been concerned that aid was not arriving fast enough, and the World Health Organization reported that ten million people were forced to drink unsafe water. ThePakistani economy was harmed by extensive damage to infrastructure and crops. Damage to structures was estimated to exceed US$4 billion (€2.5 billion), and wheat crop damages were estimated to be over US$500 million (€425 million). Total economic impact may have been as much as US$43 billion (€35 billion).
The floods were driven by unprecedented monsoon rain. The rainfall anomaly map published by NASA showed unusually intense monsoon rains attributed to La Niña. On 21 June, the Pakistan Meteorological Department cautioned that urban and flash flooding could occur from July to September in the north parts of the country. The same department recorded above-average rainfall in the months of July and August 2010 and monitored the flood wave progression. Discharge levels were comparable to those of the floods of 1988, 1995, and 1997. The monsoon rainfall of 2010, over whole country, was excess of 87 per cent and was highest since 1994 and ranked second highest during last 50 years of period.
In response to previous Indus River floods in 1973 and 1976, Pakistan created the Federal Flood Commission (FFC) in 1977. The FFC operates under Pakistan's Ministry of Water and Power. It is charged with executing flood control projects and protecting lives and property of Pakistanis from the impact of floods. Since its inception the FFC has received Rs 87.8 billion (about 900 million USD). FFC documents show that numerous projects were initiated, funded and completed, but reports indicate that little work has actually been done due to ineffective leadership and corruption
Floods submerged 17 million acres (69,000 km2) of Pakistan's most fertile crop land, killed 200,000 livestock and washed away massive amounts of grain. A major concern was that farmers would be unable to meet the fall deadline for planting new seeds in 2010, which implied a loss of food production in 2011, and potential long term food shortages. The agricultural damage reached more than 2.9 billion dollars, and included over 700,000 acres (2,800 km2) of lost cotton crops, 200,000 acres (810 km2) of sugar cane and 200,000 acres (810 km2) of rice, in addition to the loss of over 500,000 tonnes of stocked wheat, 300,000 acres (1,200 km2) of animal fodder and the stored grain losses.
Agricultural crops such as cotton, rice, and sugarcane and to some extent mangoes were badly affected in Punjab, according to a Harvest Tradings-Pakistan spokesman. He called for the international community to fully participate in the rehabilitation process, as well as for the revival of agricultural crops in order to get better GDP growth in the future.
In affected Multan Division in South Punjab, some people were seen to be engaging in price-gouging in this disaster, raising prices up to Rs 130/kg. Some called for Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited to write off all agricultural loans in the affected areas in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa especially for small farmers.
On 24 September the World Food Programme announced that about 70% of Pakistan's population, mostly in rural areas, did not have adequate access to proper nutrition.
Already resurgent in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, agricultural devastation brought on by the floods left Pakistan more susceptible to an increase in poppycultivation, given the crop's resiliency and relatively few inputs.
Floods damaged an estimated 2,433 miles (3,916 km) of highway and 3,508 miles (5,646 km) of railway and repairs are expected to cost at least 158 million USD and 131 million USD, respectively.Public building damage is estimated at 1 billion USD. Aid donors estimate that 5,000 schools were destroyed.
The power infrastructure of Pakistan also took a severe blow from the floods, which damaged 10,000 transmission lines and transformers, feeders and power houses in different flood-hit areas. Flood water inundated Jinnah Hydro power and 150 power houses in Gilgit. The damage caused a power shortfall of 3.135 gigawatts.
3. Taliban insurgency
It was reported that the flood would divert Pakistani military forces from fighting the Pakistani Taliban insurgents (TTP) in the northwest to help in the relief effort, giving Taliban fighters a reprieve to regroup. Helping flood victims gave the US an opportunity to improve its image.
Pakistani Taliban also engaged in relief efforts, making inroads where the government was absent or seen as corrupt. As the flood dislodged many property markers, it was feared that governmental delay and corruption would give the Taliban the opportunity to settle these disputes swiftly. In August a Taliban spokesperson asked the Pakistani government to reject Western help from "Christians and Jews" and claimed that the Taliban could raise $20 million to replace that aid.
According to a US official, the TTP issued a threat saying that it would launch attacks against foreigners participating in flood relief operations. In response, the United Nations said it was reviewing security arrangements for its workers. The World Health Organization stated that work in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was already suffering because of security concerns.
An self-proclaimed Taliban spokesperson based in Orakzai told The Express Tribune: “We have not issued any such threat; and we don’t have any plans to attack relief workers." Nevertheless three American Christians were reported killed by the Taliban on 25 August in the Swat Valley.
4. Political effects
The floods' aftermath was thought likely contribute to public perception of inefficiency and to political unrest. These political effects of the floods were compared with that of the 1970 Bhola cyclone. The skepticism within the country extended to outside donors. Less than 20% of the pledged aid was scheduled to go through the government, according to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, with the remainder flowing through non-governmental organizations. The government's response was complicated by insurgencies (in Balochistan and Waziristan), growing urban sectarian discord, increasing suicide bombings against core institutions and relations with India.
5. Economic effects
On 7 September 2010, the International Labour Organization reported that the floods had cost more than 5.3 million jobs, stating that "productive and labor intensive job creation programmes are urgently needed to lift millions of people out of poverty that has been aggravated by flood damage". Forecasts estimated that the GDP growth rate of 4% prior to the floods would turn to -2% to -5% followed by several additional years of below-trend growth. As a result, Pakistan was unlikely to meet the International Monetary Fund's target budget deficit cap of 5.1% of GDP, and the existing $55 billion of external debt was set to grow. Crop losses were expected to impact textile manufacturing, Pakistan's largest export sector. The loss of over 10 million head of livestock along with the loss of other crops would reduce agricultural production by more than 15%. Toyota and Unilever Pakistan said that the floods would sap growth, necessitating production cuts as people coped with the destruction. Parvez Ghias, the chief executive of Pakistan's largest automotor manufacturer Toyota, described the economy's state as "fragile". Nationwide car sales were predicted to fall as much as 25%, forcing automakers to reduce production in October–2010 from the prior level of 200 cars per day. Milk supplies fell by 15%, which caused the retail price of milk to increase by Pk Rs 4 (5 US cents) per liter.
2011 Floods in Sindh
The heavy monsoon rains and the resulting floods have affected more than 5.4 million people in Sindh and Balochistan Provinces of Pakistan. In Sindh 23 districts have been affected to some degree. It is expected that the population will continue to be uprooted from their homes to seek refuge in the short term as more areas are affected. In Balochistan, five districts are affected.
• At least 5.4 million have been affected
• 1.8 million people have been displaced (51% female)
• 21 out of 23 districts in Sindh have been affected
• 67% of food stock has been destroyed.
• In 16 districts, 72.6% crops damaged or destroyed while 36.2% livestock is lost or sold.
In the month of July Pakistan received below normal monsoon rains; however in August and September the country received above normal monsoon rains. A strong weather pattern entered the areas of Sindh from the Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat in August and gained strength with the passage of time and caused heavy downpours. The four weeks of continuous rain have created an unprecedented flood situation in Sindh.
The District Badin in Sindh province received record breaking rainfall of 615.3 millimeters (24.22 in) during the monsoon spell breaking earlier recorded 121 millimeters (4.8 in) in Badin in 1936. The area of Mithi also received record rainfall of 1,290 millimeters (51 in) during the spell, where maximum rainfall was recorded 114 millimeters (4.5 in) in Mithi in 2004. The heavy cloudburst during last 48–72 hours displaced many people besides destroying crops in the area. The Met Office had informed all district coordination officers, Provincial Disaster Management Authority, chief secretaries and chief ministers about the heavy monsoon rain-spell two days earlier to take precautionary measures.
Qamar uz Zaman Chaudhry, Director General Pakistan Meteorological Department said: "the rains in Sindh are the highest ever recorded monsoon rains during the four weeks period of August and September, 2011. Before the start of these rains in the second week of August, Sindh was under severe drought conditions and it had not received any rainfall for the last 12 months. The last severe rainfall flooding in Sindh occurred in July 2003," he said and added, "but this time the devastating rains of Mithi, Mirpurkhas, Diplo, Parker, Nawabshah, Badin, Chhor, Padidan, and Hyderabad etc during the four weeks period have created unprecedented flood situation in Sindh." According to Dr. Qamar, the total volume of water fallen over Sindh during the four weeks is estimated to be above 37 million acre feet, “which is unimaginable. The August monsoon rainfall, over province of Sindh (271 % above normal) is the heaviest recorded during the period 1961–2011.
UN efforts for floods in Pakistan
The United Nations called for US$357 million to help the Government of Pakistan provide life-saving assistance to more than 5 million people left destitute by devastating monsoon rains and floods in Pakistan. The United Nations Rapid Response Plan for 2011 aims to provide food, water, sanitation, health, and emergency shelter to the worst hit families for six months.
To date, the UN and its humanitarian partners have distributed more than 20,000 shelter kits and sets of household goods, as well as 530,000 plastic sheets. More than 650,000 people have received medicines and medical care, and 500,000 people will receive food aid by the end of September. The UN also aims to provide 400,000 people with access to safe drinking water over the coming days. Nonetheless, the level of need remains huge.
1. Role of Government Institutions
When the flood reached the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the government announced the evacuation of houses. This was initially refused by many people, because hardly anybody believed in an upcoming disaster. The refusal of people to leave their homes is also linked to local cultures and traditions. Daily life takes place in the privacy of a family’s home. Therefore, the destruction of houses deprives families of housing place and, at the same time, of a retreat, particularly for female family members.
After the flood struck the province with its full strength, the provincial government was paralysed. It was a critical situation, as the government had hardly any resources to provide aid to the people. It was the assistance of the military (and its equipment, such as helicopters and boats) that enabled the government to first rescue people and then provide food and non-food items. By now, the provincial government has started different relief activities in almost every constituency. Camps were established and food was distributed. Besides the provisions of tents, government school buildings were transferred into temporary shelters. Nevertheless, the help given was not sufficient, since the province was, prior to the flood, already in a state of war. Many people, particularly children and women, are mentally disturbed and most vulnerable in this crisis. Despite all efforts by the provincial government and other actors, such as NGOs, civil society or host families, more resources and aid is urgently needed. In regard to the upcoming winter season, however, the temporary tents are not sufficient any more. There is a need of warm shelters, beds and blankets. The main need, which cannot only be provided by the provincial government, is, however, the beginning of a rehabilitation process.
So far, the provincial government has not received any financial support from the federal government or international donors. The chief minister of the province has already initiated a meeting with international donor agencies to convince them of the necessity to help and support the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Regarding the ongoing war on terror in the region, it is even more important to support this crisis-ridden province.
In general, Pakistan is in need of international support. Many regional organisations, which help affected families, are charity based or depended on external funding. Also the financial support of the Pakistan government does not meet the needs of the people so far. The government has issued so called “Watan Cards” with a balance of 20.000 Rupees (approx. 180 EUR) to affected families. This amount is, however, not sufficient for the reconstruction of houses. Thus, main problems are the rehabilitation and reconstruction of houses and livelihoods, as well as the resettlement of homeless people. If such processes are not initiated in the upcoming months, a crisis after the crisis will emerge and aggravate the security situation in the region. In this regard, Pakistan needs assistance by the international donor community, also because the government lacks functioning institutions to handle such issues.
2. The Flood as a Catalyst for Existing Crises
Pakistan is facing a multi-fold crisis: a food, fuel, fiscal, democracy, terrorism and climate crisis. They are all interlinked and somehow extent the effect of each other. The flood now multiplies the effect of these already existing crises in the country. Prior to the flood, there was yet a food crisis in the country. According to a report by the World Food Programme and Sustainable Development Policy Institute released in June 2010, about 48 percent of Pakistan’s population is affected by food insecurity. After the flood and its disastrous impacts, this crisis was aggravated and the number of people rose to 60 percent.
Pakistan has been facing a deteriorating fuel crisis for many years, which leads to energy shortage and blackouts. This crisis was in turn aggravated by a lack of energy and lack of budgetary discipline. The flood threatened some of the power plants, and the supply of natural gas and oil had to be reduced because of standing water.
Furthermore, the fiscal crisis led to the reduction of funds for the “Public Sector Development Programme” (education, health, agriculture, sanitation, infrastructure etc.) in order to meet the needs for flood relief and reconstruction. This drastic move, in turn, leaves half of the population, which was not directly affected by the flood, economically vulnerable.
The democracy crisis became particularly visible in regards to the district government system. During the flood crisis, the tenure of local governments expired, but the election commission has not announced elections to fill vacant government position of the districts. Thus, the lack of local governments has a negative effect on the coordination of relief items and reconstructions activities.
Furthermore, the security (terrorism) crisis is interlinked with the food crisis. Those districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Mohmand Agency, North and South Waziristan, Lower and Upper Dir, Shangla), Baluchistan (Dera Bugti), Punjab (DG Kahn, Rajanpur and Muzaffargarh) and Sindh (Dadu, Jacobabad, Shikarpur, Sukkur), which are facing a chronic food crisis, are also classified as most insecure and dangerous districts regarding militancy or tribal violence. At the same time, some of the districts are also the worst flood affected areas which in turn aggravate the already existing crises.
Finally, the flood also has a serious ecological impact. The Indus River is a habitat for rare and endangered species such as the Blind Dolphin. In the course of the flood, barrages were opened and many dolphins could slip into canals, where they died. Also mangroves in lower Sindh and forests in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were destroyed by the flood.
3. Civil-Military Relations
Currently, military and civil government institutions are struggling on issues of distribution of relief aid. The question of dividing the government resources is central. Different stakeholders battle for the greatest share of resources which in turn undermines the efficiency of the state and its ability to address problems.
Pakistan’s image on the outside, but also inside the country, is rather negative. Both media and the establishment created an extremely negative image of the government’s crisis management and portrayed the military as saviour of the people. However, in the case of Punjab, it was initially the local government, not the military, that came to the people’s assistance. Despite many problems, the government is not as incompetent as it is always portrayed.
Nevertheless, the military is the only entity, which is prepared and equipped for such an immense crisis. Regarding government expenditure on the military (approx. 35-40% of government expenditures), it would be logical for the government to use the military for emergency aid. Moreover, there are just no alternative institutions, which could cater in case of floods, earthquakes or other national emergencies. In case of civil-military relations, it should be considered along the cost for deploying the military or the cost of not having alternative institutions in such situations. However, Pakistan and the international community need to esteem the value of the civilian structure of the state which is, despite all inefficiency, committed to the creation of a peaceful Pakistan. Thus, the key is to enable Pakistan to help itself by building and strengthening its civil institutions.
Expectations, Needs and Challenges
• Short term expectations:
1. Physical availability of food items – therefore convincing policy makers to open trade with India through Wagah Border (near Lahore)
2. Humanitarian relief items such as (warm) shelters, beds and blankets
3. Rehabilitation and reconstruction of houses and livelihoods
4. Ban of livestock export, since a huge number of people have lost their animals
5. Assistance in the coordination of aid
• Midterm expectations:
1. Land tenure arrangements, including redistribution and re-demarcation of land. This bears problems of corruption and anger, since land tenure or land ownership is not computerized.
2. Distribution of seed and fertilizers
3. Soil analysis for proper use of agricultural land
• Long term expectations:
1. An overall agricultural policy including land reform (because 80% of land is in the hands of only 20% of people), crop cultivation, size of land, access to water etc.
2. Resettlement programmes for people who live near the rivers
3. Anti-corruption programmes
4. Programmes for the social sector such as education and health facilities
5. Support in regard to the war on terror and its impact on the society
6. Adjustment of aid policy of the international donor community, because it is virtually an extension of the policy of the war on terror (For example, Germany has concentrated its help only on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa although other provinces are equally affected by the flood and problems of militancy)
7. Exchange of international donors, civil society and the government to address and reassess the needs of the people in order to implement aid programmes properly
8. Discontinuation of the sale of military equipment by supplier states (fighter jets from USA and China, Negotiations on buying Submarines from Germany and France). It is the responsibility of supplier states, which are at the same time donors of aid, to prevent Pakistan to spend millions of dollars for military equipment.
9. Exchange of regional experiences (India, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka) towards the establishment of institutional and social structures and how to meet natural disasters
10. Transparency in regard to the implementation of studies such as the post-disaster survey “Damage and Needs Assessment” of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (e.g. objections in terms of validity of data)
Dengue Fever In Pakistan
Already cursed by floods and suicide bombings, Pakistan now faces a new menace from an unprecedented outbreak of the deadly tropical disease dengue fever.
According to Punjab’s Health Department, the number of dengue-affected people is 19,614; of them, 17,000 belong to Lahore. So far, 317 people have died. This fever has spread rapidly among both rich and poor in Pakistan’s cultural capital Lahore.
Dengue affects between 50 and 100 million people in the tropics and subtropics each year, resulting in fever, muscle and joint ache.
But it can also be fatal, developing into haemorrhagic fever and shock syndrome, which is characterised by bleeding and a loss of blood pressure.
Caused by four strains of virus spread by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, there is no vaccine — which is why prevention methods focus on mosquito control.
Pakistani authorities in Lahore have blamed the crisis on prolonged monsoon rains and unusually high seasonal temperatures.
But furious locals say the outbreak is yet another example of government inefficiency, citing a failure to take preventive measures to kill off the mosquitos and lengthy power cuts.
In northwestern province Khyber Paktunkhwa, at least 130 people have been diagnosed and six have died. Southern province Sindh has seen 400 suspected cases and six deaths.
Banners emblazoned with giant sketches of mosquitos and public warning messages such as “Eliminate dengue, Have peace” are hung across avenues and crossings in Lahore, a city of eight million.
At Lahore General Hospital, where most cases have been reported, the corridors were packed with patients and relatives making it difficult to breathe.Outside, medics set up large tents to accommodate family members and patients waiting for treatment, offering some shelter in the sweltering heat.Doctor Zafar Ikram said the hospital was working beyond capacity to deal with the influx of patients.
“I think more people are coming because there is greater awareness about dengue due to the media spotlight and people are scared, so anyone with a normal fever comes to hospital for the (dengue) test,” Ikram told AFP.
At the Mayo hospital, hundreds of people queued up in front of registration counters, giving blood samples and collecting reports.
Teams from the World Health Organisation and Sri Lanka are now helping with the efforts. Schools and colleges initially shut have since reopened.
Government of Pakistan and Punjab, Pakistan are working on the preventive measures to reduce the spread of the epidemic. The Government of Punjab has opened a hotline called Punjab Health Line Project For Dengue which can be reached at 0800-99000. This is to facilitate the circulation on the signs and symptoms of dengue, reach for help for suspected cases and ultimately help identify areas where the epidemic may have reached. Spraying teams have been organized for the purpose of fumigating, spraying and fogging areas where the Aedes mosquitoes have known to infect people with the virus. Directions are in place for spraying especially in educational institutes. The government threatened to take action against any private school that did not observe to take these measures. Mobile teams operate around the clock to treat affectees on the spot in rural areas. A Special Tribunal for dengue directly reports to the provincial government. Chairman Dengue Emergency Response Committee Khwaja Saad Rafique has also advised private schools to spray twice a week. In early September 2011, the Government of Punjab ordered the schools, colleges and universities in thePakistan to close down for 10 days for intensive spraying. Article 144 has been implemented in Lahore for the prevention of dengue. After an appeal by the Punjab, Pakistan, private hospitals have agreed to provide free treatment to dengue patients.
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