Aid workers say lack of clean drinking water is causing outbreaks of several diseases in Pakistan and Balochistan in the aftermath of the deadly floods that inundated entire villages and killed 1200 people combined. Government officials say that country does not have the resources to deal with the crisis.
Medecins Sans Frontieres, an international medical charity, said access to clean drinking water is the biggest problem flood victims are facing.
Meanwhile, the UN children’s agency Unicef said more children were at risk of deadly diseases due to the paucity of clean water. “There is now a high risk of water-borne, deadly diseases spreading rapidly, diarrhoea, cholera, dengue, malaria,” agency’s Abdullah Fadil said. “There is therefore a risk of many more child deaths.”
Estimates suggest that the deadly floods have caused an estimated $10bn worth of damage in Pakistan and Balochistan, and hundreds of thousands of people face serious food shortages and access to reliable shelter. Thousands of acres of crops have been destroyed, which presages a protracted famine once the rains have subsided.
Balochistan has received 463% more rain than average, breaking a 30-year record.
Leading climate experts are calling the devastating floods in Balochistan and Pakistan a “wake-up call” to the world on the threats of climate change. Even though Pakistan contributes less than 1% of global greenhouse emissions – Balochistan’s contribution is almost zero – its geography makes it extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
It 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 heatwaves in March, and the other brings monsoon rains.
The science linking climate change and intense monsoons are simple – global warming is making air and temperatures rise, leading to more evaporation. Warmer air can hold more moisture, making monsoon downpours hellish.
But something else that makes the region more susceptible to climate change is immense glaciers. As the world warms, glaciers are melting. The glacial ice in KPK and Gilgit Baltistan is rapidly melting, creating lakes. Around 33 such lakes are at risk of sudden bursting, which could unleash millions of cubic meters and debris, putting millions of people at risk.
Yusuf Baloch, a 17-year-old climate activist, told BBC that governments are failing to protect the people affected by flooding. “People have the right to be angry. Companies are still extracting fossil fuels from Balochistan, but people there have just lost their homes and have no food or shelter”, he said.
Long-term deforestation and the failure of the government to make adaptive changes since the deadly floods of 2010, which left 2000 people dead, have also contributed to the scale of devastation.