Pakistan’s Record Breaking Floods

Monsoon season has come for Pakistan and with it the most severe flooding seen in recent years. This monsoon has caused rivers to overflow, destroying infrastructure and displacing around 33 million people. Scientists say this is an outcome of climate change; during April and May, Pakistan was the victim of another record breaking heatwave that reached temperatures above 100°F. Earlier this year, Meteorologists had warned Pakistanis that there would be “above normal” levels of rain this Monsoon season [1].  


The intense heat has led to the melting of many glaciers in the northern mountainous region of Pakistan, increasing the amount of water flowing down to the Indus River. The Indus River is Pakistan’s largest river that runs next to towns, cities, and agricultural land. Pakistani water-resources engineer at the Global Change Impacts Study Center, Zia Hashmi, visited the glacier regions in Pakistan and noticed an increase in the water flow. Additionally, he mentions the increase in muddy water in the Hunza River [1]. This mud indicates the glaciers have been melting at a much faster rate than previous years. As the climate gets warmer, more intense rains and floods will destroy other countries, especially those located in South Asia. 


Even though climate change is the main cause of these floods, another factor for the ongoing devastation is the weak drainage system. These communities are in areas prone to flooding, but without a good drainage system,the destruction of homes and roads will increase [2]. A solution would be to reinforce bridges and homes in high risk areas, moving homes even further away from the water.  


The floods have affected 33 million people, with 3.4 million of these people being children. Their homes have been completely damaged, and their families are now living on the streets without proper nutrition. There are millions of families living in temporary shelters, and those who don’t have access to these shelters are forced to sleep in the open without any protection from the overwhelming elevation of the water [3]. Additionally, there is an outbreak of many diseases affecting mainly the children because families are using contaminated water and they have to spend long periods of time walking through the water to get to safety. These diseases include skin infections, typhoid, malaria, respiratory tract infections, dengue, and a list of water borne diseases. The lesser-developed communities of Pakistan have been hit the hardest, with children already suffering from malnutrition and having little to no access to food and drinkable water. Since the floods, 27 million Paksistanians haven’t had access to food, increasing the risk of widespread hunger. 


The floods have destroyed crops and killed livestock; since farming makes up 40% of employment, this catastrophe has left many citizens struggling with hunger. There are now countries contributing money to help Pakistan recover: China has pledged $14.5 million and the UK $1.73 million [4]. The United Nations has even tried to reach the poorer and more devastated parts of the country by launching a $160 million dollar appeal. 


This flood has shown us how devastating climate change can be, as it can even lead to many losing their homes and their loved ones. If humanity doesn’t act now, there could be even more catastrophic consequences in the future.