Climate Change: Pakistan Requires Massive Assistance to Recover From Catastrophic Floods

Pakistan is dealing with the aftermath of the worst floods in the country's history.  Over a thousand Pakistanis are dead. About 33 million people in two southern provinces are homeless. Sindh is inundated with 784% of normal rainfall so far this year. Balochistan has seen 522% of average rainfall. Both provinces suffered their worst ever heatwave prior to this unprecedented deluge. Nearly a million livestock have been lost, over two million acres of farmland is underwater and 90% of the crops in Sindh and Balochistan have been damaged. This is a massive humanitarian crisis. Pakistan can not deal with it alone.

Pakistan Flood 2022 Map. Source: DW

Satellite Image of Qambar, Sindh Before/After Floods 2022. Source: ...

Satellite Image of Shikarpur, Sindh Before/After Floods 2022. Source: NASA



Balochistan and Sindh Worst Affected by Monsoon22. Source: The Econ...

Pakistan's population is about 2.6% of the world population. The nation contributes less than 1% of the global carbon emissions. It lacks the resources needed to deal with the consequences of this man-made disaster. The Industrial Revolution in Europe and the United States was fueled mainly by fossil fuels such as coal and oil believed to be responsible for climate change.  The following map from Professor Jason Hickel shows that the countries in the global north are the biggest polluters while those in the global south are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. 

Climate Injustice: Low Emitters Global South vs Big Polluters in In...
Average Annual Cost of Floods in Vulnerable Countries. Source: Bloo...

Comparison of 2022 and 2010 Floods in Pakistan. Source: WWF

It will take hundreds of millions of dollars to provide immediate relief to 33 million people, followed by tens of billions of dollars in assistance to rebuild the lives and livelihoods and the infrastructure destroyed by this catastrophe. Pakistan's gross capital formation is only 15% of its GDP. Among the world’s top 20 economies by population, only Egypt has a lower rate of gross capital formation than Pakistan, according to Bloomberg. It is time for the rich industrialized world to help developing nations such as Pakistan to deal with the massive impact of climate change. 

Low Gross Capital Formation in Pakistan. Source: Bloomberg 

All Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis need to pitch in with donations to help finance immediate disaster relief activities. Beyond that, Pakistan will have to be helped by international experts to build disaster preparedness capacity. The new housing and infrastructure will have to be funded and built to ensure its resilience in future climate disasters which are likely to occur more often with greater intensity. There is an urgent  need to prepare western and multilateral financial institutions to deal with such climate catastrophes in developing nations. Mechanisms also need to be put in place to provide and manage funding of these projects in a transparent manner. 

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Comment by Riaz Haq on September 5, 2022 at 7:20am

Mehdi Hasan
@mehdirhasan
"Cancel Pakistan's debt... We have so much debt towards the people that are responsible for [exacerbating the floods]... so we need to clear that, otherwise people will starve.”

@BhuttoZulfikar
to me on, the responsibility for climate change, on
@MSNBC
:

https://twitter.com/mehdirhasan/status/1566630478911774721?s=20&...

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 5, 2022 at 7:51am

The devastating floods in Pakistan are a "wake-up call" to the world on the threats of climate change, experts have said.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-62758811

The record-breaking rain would devastate any country, not just poorer nations, one climate scientist has told BBC News.

The human impacts are clear - another 2,000 people were rescued from floodwaters on Friday, while ministers warn of food shortages after almost half the country's crops were washed away.

A sense of injustice is keenly felt in the country. Pakistan contributes less than 1% of the global greenhouse gases that warm our planet but its geography makes it extremely vulnerable to climate change.

"Literally, one-third of Pakistan is underwater right now, which has exceeded every boundary, every norm we've seen in the past," Climate minister Sherry Rehman said this week.

Pakistan is located at a place on the globe which bears the brunt of two major weather systems. One can cause high temperatures and drought, like the heatwave in March, and the other brings monsoon rains.

The majority of Pakistan's population live along the Indus river, which swells and can flood during monsoon rains.

The science linking climate change and more intense monsoons is quite simple. Global warming is making air and sea temperatures rise, leading to more evaporation. Warmer air can hold more moisture, making monsoon rainfall more intense.

Scientists predict that the average rainfall in the Indian summer monsoon season will increase due to climate change, explains Anja Katzenberger at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

But Pakistan has something else making it susceptible to climate change effects - its immense glaciers.

The northern region is sometimes referred to as the 'third pole' - it contains more glacial ice than anywhere in the world outside of the polar regions.

As the world warms, glacial ice is melting. Glaciers in Pakistan's Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa regions are melting rapidly, creating more than 3,000 lakes, the the UN Development Programme told BBC News. Around 33 of these are at risk of sudden bursting, which could unleash millions of cubic meters of water and debris, putting 7 million people at risk.

Pakistan's government and the UN are attempting to reduce the risks of these sudden outburst floods by installing early-warning systems and protective infrastructure.

In the past poorer countries with weaker flood defences or lower-quality housing have been less able to cope with extreme rainfall.

But climate impact scientist Fahad Saeed told BBC News that even a rich nation would be overwhelmed by the catastrophic flooding this summer.

"This is a different type of animal - the scale of the floods is so high and the rain is so extreme, that even very robust defences would struggle," Dr Saeed explains from Islamabad, Pakistan.

He points to the flooding in Germany and Belgium that killed dozens of people in 2021.

Pakistan received nearly 190% more rain than its 30-year average from June to August - reaching a total of 390.7mm.

He says that Pakistan's meteorological service did a "reasonable" job in warning people in advance about flooding. And the country does have some flood defences but they could be improved, he says.

People with the smallest carbon footprints are suffering the most, Dr Saeed says.

"The victims are living in mud homes with hardly any resources - they have contributed virtually nothing to climate change," he says.

The flooding has affected areas that don't normally see this type of rain, including southern regions Sindh and Balochistan that are normally arid or semi-arid.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 8, 2022 at 6:23pm

Samantha Power
@PowerUSAID
NEWS: The first US Military plane landed today in Sindh Province, much of which has been submerged in floodwater. Working hand in hand with Pakistan’s authorities and
@USAID
,
@DeptofDefense
is building an airbridge to provide life-saving shelter:

https://twitter.com/PowerUSAID/status/1567920699439816714?s=20&...

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 9, 2022 at 7:31am

#UN Chief appeals for "massive assistance" to #Pakistan. “We are heading into a disaster. We have waged war on nature and nature is tracking back and striking back in a devastating way. Today in Pakistan, tomorrow in any of your countries.” #Floods https://apnews.com/article/floods-pakistan-united-nations-islamabad...

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday that the world owes impoverished Pakistan “massive” help in recovering from devastating floods because other nations have contributed much more to climate change, which experts say may have helped trigger the deluge.

Months of monsoons and flooding have killed 1,391 people and affected 3.3 million in this South Asian nation while half a million people have become homeless. Planeloads of aid from the United States, the United Arab Emirates and other countries have begun arriving, but there’s more to be done, Guterres said.

Nature, the U.N. chief said in Islamabad, has attacked Pakistan, which contributes less than 1% of global emissions, according to multiple experts. Nations that “are more responsible for climate change ... should have faced this challenge,” Guterres said, seated next to Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

“We are heading into a disaster,” Guterres added. “We have waged war on nature and nature is tracking back and striking back in a devastating way. Today in Pakistan, tomorrow in any of your countries.”

The U.N. chief’s trip comes less than two weeks after Guterres appealed for $160 million in emergency funding to help those affected by the monsoon rains and floods that Pakistan says have caused at least $10 billion in damages. On Friday, the first planeload arrived from the U.S. , which Washington says is part of an upcoming $30 million in assistance.

“I appeal for massive support from the international community as Pakistan responds to this climate catastrophe,” Guterres tweeted after landing in Pakistan earlier Friday.

He said other nations contributing to climate change are obligated to reduce emissions and help Pakistan. He assured Sharif that his voice was “entirely at the service of the Pakistani government and the Pakistani people” and that “the entire U.N. system is at the service of Pakistan.”

“Pakistan has not contributed in a meaningful way to climate change, the level of emissions in this country is relatively low,” Guterres said. “But Pakistan is one of the most dramatically impacted countries by climate change.”

Later, Guterres directed his words to the international community, saying that by some estimates, Pakistan needs about $30 billion to recover.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 9, 2022 at 2:39pm

The #west is ignoring #Pakistan’s super-floods. Heed this warning: tomorrow it will be you. Those who don’t die from the #floods risk death by starvation – yet you’ve probably heard little about the devastation. #FloodsInPakistan2022
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/sep/08/pakistan-floo...

Today, Pakistan, the world’s fifth-most-populous country, is fighting for its survival. This summer, erratic monsoon rains battered the country from north to south – Sindh, the southernmost province, received 464% more rain over the last few weeks than the 30-year average for the period.

At the same time, Pakistan’s glaciers are melting at a rate never seen before. These two consequences of the climate crisis have combined to create a monstrous super-flood that has ravaged the country.

Ninety per cent of crops in Sindh have been damaged; Faisal Edhi, who runs Pakistan’s largest social welfare organisation, the Edhi Foundation, has warned that those who don’t die from the floods risk death by starvation.

A famine is coming; the only question is how soon? Economic losses are estimated to be in excess of $30bn, 50 million people have been internally displaced, there is the threat of a malaria epidemic as floodwater lies stagnant – satellite images have shown the shocking formation of a 100km-wide inland lake in Sindh due to overflowing from the Indus River – and there is no doubt that a generation will be cast backwards as already meagre education and health services are violently disrupted. More than 400 children have died and with winter coming and millions left without shelter, many more will.

This is a tragedy of nightmarish proportions and yet if you live outside Pakistan, you probably haven’t heard much about it. Given its near total lack of interest in the fate of Pakistan, it would seem that the rest of the world hasn’t considered that this epic humanitarian crisis is a peek into the apocalyptic future that awaits us all.

No nation need have any special feelings towards Pakistan, but the horrors faced by the country today are a clear warning of the consequences of universal and rapacious climate breakdown. Human beings have destroyed our one and only planet; what is happening in Pakistan today is proof of that.

Our voracious burning of fossil fuels, obnoxious disregard for the wild and natural world we inherited, and criminal consumption means that no country, no matter its wealth, will be immune from the consequences of global heating. Today it is Pakistan, tomorrow it will be California, France, Australia, the world.

While it has been touching to see how ordinary people from far away countries have shown solidarity with Pakistan, donating what they can to flood relief efforts, the silence from major international figures and western media at large has been dispiriting, if not unsurprising. The week the flood hit, there were more newspaper column inches devoted to a Finnish prime minister who likes to party than to the fact that a third of Pakistan was submerged.

This is not a question of disaster fatigue. In Europe, the same countries that pushed Syrian refugees out in rubber dinghies to die at sea have free Airbnb housing and welcome booths for Ukrainians at their airports. And it’s not that Pakistan is too dangerous to visit or deal with. Only recently, Bernard Henri Levy, the French pop intellectual, was strutting around Odessa and President Zelensky publicly thanked Ben Stiller and Angelina Jolie, “who, despite the danger, have visited us”. (To be fair to Jolie, she did visit Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake.)

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 12, 2022 at 10:17am

‘Very Dire’: Devastated by Floods, Pakistan Faces Looming Food Crisis
The flooding has crippled Pakistan’s agricultural sector, battering the country as it reels from an economic crisis and double-digit inflation that has sent the price of basics soaring.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/11/world/asia/pakistan-floods-food-...

Violent swells have swept away roads, homes, schools and hospitals across much of Pakistan. Millions of people have been driven from their homes, struggling through waist-deep, fetid water to reach islands of safety. Nearly all of the country’s crops along with thousands of livestock and stores of wheat and fertilizer have been damaged — prompting warnings of a looming food crisis.

Since a deluge of monsoon rains lashed Pakistan last week, piling more water on top of more than two months of record flooding that has killed hundreds of people and displaced tens of millions, the Pakistani government and international relief organizations have scrambled to save people and vital infrastructure in what officials have called a climate disaster of epic proportions.

Floodwater now covers around a third of the country, including its agricultural belt, with more rain predicted in the coming weeks. The damage from the flood will likely be “far greater” than initial estimates of around $10 billion, according to the country’s planning minister, Ahsan Iqbal.

The flooding has crippled a country that was already reeling from an economic crisis and double digit-inflation that has sent the price of basic goods soaring. Now the flooding threatens to set Pakistan back years or even decades, officials warned, and to fan the flames of political tensions that have engulfed the country since former Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted last spring.

The damage to the country’s agricultural sector could also be felt across the globe, experts warn. Pakistan is one of the world’s top producers and exporters of cotton and rice — crops that have been devastated by the flood. As much as half of the country’s cotton crop has been destroyed, officials said, a blow to global cotton production in a year when cotton prices have soared as other major producers from the United States to China have been hit with extreme weather.

The floodwaters also threaten to derail Pakistan’s wheat planting season this fall, raising the possibility of continued food shortfalls and price spikes through next year. It is an alarming prospect in a country that depends on its wheat production to feed itself at a time when global wheat supplies are precarious.


“We’re in a very dire situation,” said Rathi Palakrishnan, deputy country director of the World Food Program in Pakistan. “There’s no buffer stocks of wheat, there’s no seeds because farmers have lost them.”

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government, along with the United Nations, has appealed for $160 million in emergency funding to reach 5.2 million of the country’s most vulnerable people.

The scale of the devastation in Pakistan stands out even in a year punctuated by extreme weather, including heat waves across Europe and the United States, intense rain that has drenched parts of Asia and the worst drought to hit East Africa in decades.

Since the start of the monsoon season in Pakistan this summer, more than 1,300 people have died in floods — nearly half of whom are children — and more than 6,000 have been injured, according to the United Nations. Around 33 million people have been displaced. Floodwater now covers around 100,000 square miles — an area larger than the size of Britain — with more floods expected in the coming weeks.

Sindh Province, which produces around a third of the country’s food supply, has been among the hardest hit by the rains. The province received nearly six times its 30-year average rainfall this monsoon season, which has damaged around 50 percent of the province’s crops, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 13, 2022 at 4:10pm

The New York Times
@nytimes
Flooding has crippled Pakistan’s agricultural sector, battering the country as it reels from an economic crisis and inflation that has sent the price of basic goods soaring. Officials warn the flooding threatens to set Pakistan back years or even decades. https://nyti.ms/3qvsCE4

https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/1568999070571659269?s=20&t=Y...

------------

While large landowners will likely survive the floods, the damage has been devastating for the tens of thousands of smaller landowners and farmers that make up the backbone of Pakistan’s agriculture sector, Mr. Khaskheli added.

Land ownership remains an extremely feudal system in Pakistan, made up largely of vast estates cultivated by farmers who work as forced labor, primarily in the form of debt bondage.

Officials have warned that the damage and economic losses will be felt throughout the country for months and years to come. The loss of cotton to Pakistan’s textile industry, which contributes nearly 10 percent of the country’s G.D.P., could hamper any hopes for an economic recovery.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 14, 2022 at 7:31pm

We are likely to see GDP growth slowing down further to around 2%, against the current IMF estimates of 3.5%. In this fast evolving scenario, our policy response must be calibrated towards the changing ground realities.

By Zafar Masud

https://www.brecorder.com/news/40197591

Reprioritise the FY2023 budget
The federal and provincial governments need to reprioritize the FY2023 Budget allocations, in particular the PSDP and ADP expenditures for relief and rehabilitation work in the flood affected districts. Additional expenditure requirements need to be agreed in consultation with the IMF. During the 2020 COVID pandemic, IMF agreed to a Rs 800bn Budget ‘adjustor’. In effect, the primary deficit targets were calculated excluding the COVID specific expenditure. The adjustor will give governments space to cater to emergency response and reconstruction activity.

Debt relief
Pakistan has benefitted from the G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) framework in the aftermath of COVID pandemic. Pakistan is the largest beneficiary of this programme, with an estimated US$ 3.7bn of debt suspended or rescheduled under the DSSI since 2020.

Government needs to look into expanding this initiative beyond the 2 year timeline, targeting a 10-year suspension of these debt repayments. The UN 2022 Financing for Sustainable Development Report recommends urgent action to reactive the DSSI for another two years and reschedule maturity for upto five years. A new global push led by UN and G20 countries will be the most effective way for Pakistan to deal with its short-term debt liabilities.

Rapid financing facility — IMF
The UN 2022 report also calls to expand access to Rapid Financing Instruments for all developing countries. Pakistan must also explore the option to access the IMF Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI), similar to US$ 1.4bn facility utilized in 2020 as a result of the COVID pandemic.

Having said that, fiscal challenges aside, the biggest impediment could potentially be on the capacity front. We would seriously be hampered in terms of available bodies and skills to execute massive work of reconstruction and more so rehabilitation. This aspect must also be kept in perspective while calibrating the real impact on the economy of this catastrophe.

In the end, would like to conclude by acknowledging the national spirit of our great nation. Despite difficult economic realities, they have again stepped up at this time of need. The response of federal and provincial governments, civil society and private sector is beyond expectations. We at the Bank of Punjab are witnessing firsthand the tremendous response generated by the calls to raise funds for the flood affected families and have raised over Rs 2 billion hitherto in its various flood relief accounts.

As an institution, BoP is stepping up its CSR activities and have made arrangements whereby volunteering employees will be trained to build shelters and help in rehabilitation of the affected communities across the country. The Bank will bear all the costs.

We’re proud to be the first bank to extend relief to the small farmers by extending their loan repayments terms for a period of one year.

(Zafar Masud is President and CEO of The Bank of Punjab (BOP) while Sayem Ali is BOP’s Chief Economist)

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 15, 2022 at 9:34am

Pakistani industrialists expect up to 50 percent export setback after monsoon rains, floods | Arab News PK

https://www.arabnews.pk/node/2163341/pakistan

Pakistan’s planning minister Ahsan Iqbal said in a recent statement the flood-related damage could exceed $40 billion, though he added the government was working with international financial agencies to quantify the extent of devastation.

“The scale of the flood destruction is huge and still not comprehensively fathomed,” Muhammad Noman, convener of the central committee on exports at the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Arab News. “Initial estimates suggest that the country’s exports may get 35 to 50 percent setback.”

-------------

Pakistan’s devastating floods have almost wiped out the entire cotton crop, the main raw material for the textile sector, in the province of Sindh.

The floods have also partially damaged the crop in Punjab, causing a huge setback to the country’s biggest foreign exchange earning sector.

Pakistan’s overall exports during the last fiscal year stood at $31.79 billion out of which the textile sector contributed $19.32 billion, or 60.5 percent.

“Large swathes of cotton producing areas have been submerged by floods,” Muhammad Jawed Bilwani, chairman of the Pakistan Apparel Forum, told Arab News. “There are multiple issues with exports, including an increase in the cost of doing business and the refusal of authorities to open letters of credit which is also causing raw material issues. The exact impact of floods on our exports will be determined after three to four months when the current inventory of mills dries up.”

Pakistan’s textile sector requires about 12-14 million cotton bales on an annual basis, though local cotton production is expected to be around 6.5 million to 7.5 million bales this year.

The shortfall is expected to be met through imports.

Pakistan has also purchased raw cotton from the international market in the past, including the last fiscal year.

“We will have to import 1.5 million additional bales during the current year,” Khurram Mukhtar, patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Textile Exporters’ Association, said. “Commodity prices for all manufacturing countries are the same, driven by the US cotton index, so it will not affect our competitiveness.”

“The demand has gone down for domestic market consumption,” he continued. “Pakistan is still the most competitive country and we have one of the best infrastructures in the textile value chain. We have the most experience in making finished products among our peers.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 17, 2022 at 10:33am

Riaz Haq
@haqsmusings
People Of #Flood-Hit #Pakistan Need #America's Help. #US Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has introduced legislation to provide more help to the country that has been devastated by recent #floods. #PakistanFloods #Sindh

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1571173078625030148?s=20&...

--------------------
Pakistan, she said, has been a friend and has helped the US in the evacuation of Afghan refugees; helped in the war on terror, where they lost the Pakistani military in the war on terror.

“And, of course, the huge and very engaging Pakistani diaspora, Pakistani Americans who are both respected and, of course, energised to be collaborative with their government here in the United States to try to save the lives of babies and children, women and men, people who are sick, who need kidney transplants, who can't get their medicine, it is imperative that we rise up to this occasion,” she said.

-------

Asserting that the people of Pakistan need America’s help, a US lawmaker has introduced legislation to provide more help to the country that has been devastated by recent floods.

The cash-strapped nation has been struggling with the worst floods in the past 30 years, leaving more than 1,400 dead and 33 million people affected since early June.


A third of the country is submerged in water and one in every seven persons is badly affected by the floods that have led to an estimated USD 12 billion in losses that have left about 78,000 square kilometers (21 million acres) of crops under water.

“The people of Pakistan need our help. The Pakistani Americans have risen to their call. So many in my Congressional district are providing and offering to help send medical care if you will,” Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, co-chair of the Pakistani Congressional Caucus said in her remarks in the House of Representatives.

Speaking on the floor of the House, Jackson-Lee said that it is very important for the US Congress to go on record in recognizing the devastation that the people are facing every single day.

“Would you imagine, even in the trials and tribulations that we have in the United States, that you have populations of people who are isolated by dirty water and that there are people who are living in the outlying areas with no shelter whatsoever,” she said.

“The people are hungry, the lack of food is rising. The pregnant women are fearful for the unbelievable challenges they have in giving birth,” she said.

“Madam Speaker, I am calling upon Congress, as I introduce this legislation dealing with the devastation of the floods in Pakistan, to join me in supporting the legislation and, as well, recognising the dire conditions that our friends in Pakistan are having,” Jackson-Lee said.


Jackson-Lee has just returned from Pakistan after a 10 days visit with the Congressional Pakistan Caucus. “I could see water as far as the eye could see. The devastation is overwhelming: 33 million people displaced, more than 600,000 homeless, but more than that, hungry,” she said.

She thanks the Biden administration for its initial support of the UN fund of USD 30 million and the additional funding of USD 20 million.

“After our briefing in Islamabad and working with the administration, the United States military joined in delivering 300,000 tents,” she said.

“To my colleagues, more is needed. I will be introducing legislation that reflects the delegation's work and, as well, their efforts; and that is, we need additional funding for these devastating conditions,” said the Democratic Congresswoman from Texas.

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