The provincial and federal departments should announce an emergency to tackle the issue of climate change
he monsoon rains this year were 350 percent more than in the previous years. The failure of poorly constructed dams multiplied the intensity of the misery suffered by the people, especially in rural areas and riparian zones. The unprecedented rains were a challenge for the management skills of the concerned departments and the people.
In the recent past, little attention has been paid to climate mitigation and adaptation. Many citizens, unfortunately, have yet to comprehend the keywords, let alone adopt environment-friendly ways.
Water supply has always been a problem in many parts of Balochistan. The rains worsened the situation in several ways. From the immediate impact on the daily wagers to the energy crisis, the effect of these rains will remain significant for a long time to come. Some of the repercussions will be unfolding in the near future.
The immediate problems faced by the people varied in nature. The absence of cellular phone network and internet caused a technological disconnect for 21 days in some parts of the province and for even longer in other areas. Many trucks carrying relief goods from Lahore via Fort Munro, Karachi via Khuzdar and Islamabad via Da’Nasar got stuck on the way for more than thirty hours.
Homes came down, flood water entered the houses and people were forced to evacuate. The energy supply was suspended for twenty-four days. In some places, gas supply has yet to be restored.
Educational institutes remained closed for 14 days on official notice. Most of the college and university students travel by bus to reach their institutions. There was hardly any region after the floods where bridges had not been damaged. This disconnected the rural and urban areas. This was one of the reasons why many students were unable to resume studies after nominal reopening of their institutions.
Runaway inflation is now seen as a likely scenario on account of disrupted supply of food. The agriculture sector has suffered the most damage. Several kinds of crops have been destroyed.
Currently, it is hard to predict how long it will take to restore the damaged infrastructure.
Health, education and infrastructure statistics in a country indicate its development level. All these sectors were already in a poor state in the province before the catastrophic rains. The situation got worse following the floods.
The affected people are more vulnerable now to waterborne diseases. A health crisis is imminent. A shortage of basic medicines is threatening to make matters worse.
The Covid-19 epidemic resulted in an increase in the number of out-of-school children. The floods have had a similar effect. Students from remote areas will continue to be deprived of education until road infrastructure has been restored. During the pandemic, there were no online classes in many parts of the province so that many students were on vacation for a whole year.
Health, education and infrastructure statistics in a country indicate its development level. All these sectors were already in a poor state in the province before the catastrophic rains. The situation got worse with the floods.
On the one hand, the devastation caused by the floods has been huge and it will take a lot of time and effort to restore the facilities. On the other hand, certain benefits can result from the rains. Had the dams not failed the advantage may have been manifold.
The groundwater level in several parts of the province has risen by more than 50 feet. This is significant improvement in areas where water is found at a depth of 600 feet to 1,000 feet.
Climate change has many dimensions and some of those have not been fully explored or understood. The most important thing is to accept the reality and universality of climatic change. Such catastrophic events are proof that climate change is a realty, not a myth. This year its consequences were faced mostly by rural populations. There is no way to guarantee that cities will not be similarly hit in the future.
The provincial and federal departments should announce an emergency to tackle the climate change issues by apply mitigation and adaptation techniques. Political parties too must unite in the fight against climate change.
The writer is a civil engineer. He tweets DawoodKhanHere. He can be reached at dawoodkhan0666gmail.com