It seems Pakistan is bracing for another challenge of flooding after the recent heavy rains across the country. Cities across the country have been reporting infrastructural damages, deaths and a population that has been made immobile due to unpredictable levels of rainfall, even during the monsoon season. Local authorities are unable to do much and federal bodies are rather preoccupied with their political spats, leaving the task of disaster management severely neglected. If we are to overcome this recurring problem, a more focused and innovative effort is required.
Record levels of rainfall are being reported in cities like Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar and other parts of the province. In Karachi roads have become inaccessible, underpasses are completely submerged, and drains have been blocked and are overflowing all the while over 400 feeders have tripped, causing power outages as a result. People have died due to electrocution, drowning and being left stranded. The situation is just as dire in Hyderabad, Dadu and more than 200 villages that have been swept away across Sindh. Furthermore, high alert warnings have been issued in Balochistan which has seen over 103 deaths due to the rain so far. Several regions in Punjab are affected, much like KP and Gilgit-Baltistan which are also reporting landslides on top of everything. It is unfortunate that such experiences are fairly normal for the public and rather upsetting that after years of seeing the same trajectory, successive governments have failed to take the measures needed to mitigate the harms.
According to a fresh advisory of PMD, new spell of the monsoon season will start from today (July 27) across the country including Sindh province.
Disaster management is the need of the hour but sudden short-term initiatives will simply not cut it this time. Research and development must go into flood relief so that more innovative and permanent solutions can be employed. Harvesting rainwater is an option that would not only ensure the availability of water throughout the year but could recharge depleting groundwater reserves. Another potential solution comes from China’s ‘sponge city’ model which utilises storage gardens, wetlands and bioswales to absorb stormwater and release it during times of drought. Such new and advanced solutions are required to resolve this recurring crisis and even though it would require immense investment, it is environmentally friendly and only a one-time cost that allows for future spending to be saved.