What’s going on here?

Flooding in Pakistan since June has killed over 1,300 people and devastated villages, livelihoods and infrastructure. An estimated ⅓ of the country is underwater and over 33 million have been affected, so far.

What does this mean?

Record monsoon rains and melting glaciers in Pakistan’s northern mountains have brought floods that have affected 33 million people and killed at least 1,314, including 458 children (Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Agency). One in seven Pakistanis have been affected by the flooding.

Pakistan has been experiencing abnormal monsoon rainfall nearly ten times higher than usual, resulting in uncontrollable urban and flash floods, landslides, across the country. Gaining a full picture of the scale of the disaster is difficult as many affected areas remain inaccessible due to inundated and damaged road networks.

Satellite images from the European Space Agency (ESA) on 30 August were used to map the extent of flooding and appear to confirm that a third of the country is under water. Black and blue coloured areas are flood waters.

Why should we care?

This is a humanitarian crisis and the impacts don’t stop once the flood waters subside. Some hospitals are becoming overwhelmed and the significant loss of crops and livestock has prompted warnings of food shortages. Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shehbaz Sharif, describes the flood as the worst in the country’s history and says it will cost at least $10 billion to repair damaged infrastructure. Tens of millions have lost their homes and thousands of bridges have been destroyed. 

The floods have followed record-breaking summer temperatures (including heatwaves in April and May). The government and the United Nations have both blamed climate change for the extreme weather and the devastation it has brought. The IPCC Report AR6 last year stated that climate change is intensifying the water cycle which brings more intense rainfall and associated flooding and changes to the monsoon precipitation are expected. 

This is climate injustice. Pakistan contributes less than 1% of the global greenhouse gases that warm our planet but its geography makes it extremely vulnerable to climate change, and the extreme weather events the country has experienced this year.

Be curious!

Cover image: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/pakistan-struggles-avert-danger-floods-rise-death-toll-tops-1300-2022-09-05/