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Monsoon season in Pakistan brings more flooding (updated)

With the world’s hottest week on record at the beginning of July, Pakistan is feeling the effects of the climate crisis.

Written by Tarryn Pegna | 27 Jul 2023

A man and his wife stand in the flooded ruins of his home in Pakistan with their goat and cow. Severe flooding last year left millions in need of humanitarian assistance and this year's monsoon season has already brought more flooding and caused loss of life.

This monsoon season in Pakistan is already bringing further devastation to a population still trying to recover and rebuild from last year’s floods which destroyed homes and livelihoods and left 1,700 people dead. Credit: Tearfund partner

According to the preliminary data, the first week of July was the warmest the world has ever had. And it comes on the heels of the hottest June on record – a month that registered sea surface temperatures of unprecedented highs and a record low for sea ice extent in the Antarctic.

This is bad news for the planet, for the climate, and for humans.

The impacts and effects of these record-breaking temperatures have the potential to cause widespread devastation, making the occurrence of natural disasters more frequent and more intense.

Dr Baddour, chief of climate monitoring at the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), explains in a report by the WMO: ‘The North Atlantic is one of the key drivers of extreme weather. With the warming of the Atlantic there is an increasing likelihood of more hurricanes and tropical cyclones.’

Earlier in June, around 170,000 people across India and Pakistan were evacuated from their homes to help keep them safe from Cyclone Biparjoy, which set a record for the longest-lasting cyclonic storm over the Arabian Sea.

Last year’s floods in Pakistan

Terrible flooding during last year’s monsoon season in Pakistan claimed the lives of at least 1,700 people and left an estimated 20 million in need of humanitarian assistance. 

At a meeting last month between representatives of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) charities, including Tearfund, and His Majesty King Charles III to discuss the impact of money donated by the UK, DEC Chief Executive, Saleh Saeed, described how: ‘Months after the disaster struck, people were still stuck on roadways surrounded by floodwater... Not only had they lost their homes and possessions, but in an area where people depend on agriculture, they had lost their livelihoods and source of income as well.’

Monsoon season in Pakistan 

Now, the monsoon season has started again in Pakistan. 

By 26 July this year, the heavy rains had already claimed the lives of 157 people and injured at least 249 since the start of the monsoon season on 25 June. The National Disaster Management Authority in Pakistan reports that the majority of deaths were in Punjab, and were mainly due to electrocution and buildings collapsing. There have also been occurrences of landslides, one of which resulted in the tragic deaths of eight children aged between nine and 14 while they were playing cricket. 

Record-breaking rain in Lahore left roads flooded and residents without electricity and water for long hours and, as at 24 July, 183 villages in the Dadu district of Sindh had no road access due to heavy rains. Dadu was the district worst affected by last year’s floods and is one of the areas where Tearfund has been carrying out a flood response and rehabilitation project through our local partner, the Rural Education and Economic Development Society.

Other Tearfund work and partners have also been put at risk in the low-lying areas of Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas because of urban flooding.

Scientists have said the climate crisis is making seasonal rains heavier and more unpredictable and, at the time of writing, further heavy rainfall was still expected in several parts of the country, with further risk of landslides, flash floods and urban flooding anticipated.

The water levels in rivers in Pakistan have also been rising because of increased inflow from heavy rains and flooding in India, and it was reported that 95 people had to be rescued near the Ravi river.

A flooded shelter in Pakistan. Last year's floods destroyed around 2 million homes and left more than 20 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Now the monsoon season has started again in Pakistan, bringing even more flooding.

Last year’s floods in Pakistan destroyed around 2 million homes and left an estimated 20 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Credit: Tearfund partner

Ongoing impacts of the flooding

Pakistan is already struggling with an economic crisis caused by the costs of last year's floods and with people still trying to rebuild lives and livelihoods, the impact of this year's monsoon season is expected to be even more severe.

The Pakistani government has declared an emergency in Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa until 15 August as flooding there has caused deaths and damaged or destroyed hundreds of acres of crops. With high inflation and rising food insecurity in the country, this loss of food production will make the situation even harder for communities already facing poverty. 

The UN has warned that more than ten million people, including children, living in flood-affected areas still remain deprived of safe drinking water since last year’s flooding. The prolonged lack of safe drinking water brings increased risk of widespread waterborne diseases and malaria alerts have also been issued by the health department of Punjab. It’s feared that diseases, in the wake of flooding, could claim more lives than the flooding itself. 

Jonathan Johnson, who heads up Tearfund’s work in Pakistan, says, ‘At present, we are closely monitoring the situation and are in coordination with partners, following news and updates from government departments. As part of our relief and recovery project phase, we are actively engaged in preparing the communities for any possible outcomes.’

Our local partners in the region are paying close attention to the situation. By helping people be prepared for potential disasters, we can help save lives and equip communities to be more resilient. You can read more here about our disaster-preparedness work here. 

Pray for Pakistan

    • Ask God to comfort those who have lost loved ones, and pray for a speedy recovery for those who have been injured. Pray for protection from disease and for people to have the resources and courage to rebuild their lives.
    • Pray for the country amid the monsoon season. May God protect all against the potential hazards of heavy rainfall and floods. Ask God to provide adequate resources, infrastructure and preparedness measures to safeguard lives and livelihoods.
    • Lift up all humanitarian and development teams, including our partners, working to aid the recovery of flood-affected communities, many of whom have already been affected by last year’s floods. 
    • Pray for wisdom and guidance for leaders as they manage and respond in the face of potential disasters. May they make the best decisions for the nation's safety and wellbeing.

Written by

Written by  Tarryn Pegna

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