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Are We Prepared For Challenges of Climate Change?

by Kashif Ishfaq
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kashif Ishfaq

Due to unprecedented and prolonged monsoon rains last year in Pakistan, millions of people were affected by the resulting floods in all four provinces. More than 1,100 individuals lost their lives in 110 districts, while over 30 million people had their lives impacted. Around 900,000 houses were completely or partially destroyed, and more than 800,000 livestock perished. The province of Sindh was the hardest hit by these floods, with over 5 million people rendered homeless or affected in 16 districts. Over 400,000 affected individuals were included in the affected population of 34 districts in Balochistan province, while more than 400,000 individuals were rendered homeless in eight districts of Punjab due to heavy rains and floods. Approximately 50,000 individuals were affected by the floods in 33 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

This is a glimpse of the devastation that nature showed us last year, and this year again, due to heavy rains during the monsoon season, the possibility of flooding situations arises. In recent years, climate change has put the survival of many countries at risk, as the process of climate change is accelerating, and Pakistan is experiencing its severe consequences.

Now, for us, it is not possible to overlook the challenges presented in this regard because until a while ago, discussions about the impact of Glaciers melting, urban and rural areas being affected by floods, and the resulting impact on human life were only read in books or seen in such portrayals in Hollywood films. However, now this situation is practically before us, and Pakistan is ranked among the countries vulnerable to climate change. Therefore, we need to actively engage and raise awareness to tackle the challenges of climate change in every possible way. It requires practical steps at all levels, from federal and provincial governments to local authorities. Moreover, it is necessary to include it in the curriculum at the school level so that our new generation can understand climate change and be better prepared to cope with it.

It should be noted that before this, in 2010, Pakistan had also faced a similar situation due to the devastating floods on a large scale. According to official records, more than 1,700 people lost their lives in that flood, and over 2 million people were directly affected.

Due to this flood, 20 percent of the total cultivable land in the country was destroyed, and more than 1.1 million houses were damaged, resulting in a loss of over 73 billion rupees overall. Pakistan is geographically located in a region where the effects of climate change are being strongly felt. Climate change has put the income, residence, food, and health of a large number of Pakistanis at risk. The severity of this situation can be estimated from the fact that Pakistan is facing a higher average temperature compared to the global average. According to the Global Risk Index released in 2020 by the Inform Risk Index system, Pakistan ranks 18th out of 191 countries in terms of the level of risk from natural disasters. It is worth mentioning here that immediately after the severe floods in 2010, Pakistan was informed by the European countries about the future prediction based on scientific principles of climate that Pakistan may face more devastating flood situations compared to the past in the coming years. However, despite this, no significant preparations were made to cope with it in our country. If national security had been considered, the military manpower could have been utilized for the construction of dams, waterways, and the cleaning of water reservoirs, along with all other related efforts. Perhaps we could have avoided this disaster to a great extent, which we had to face last year.

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