Addressing Climate-Induced Concerns: Reflecting on Pakistan’s Floods One Year Later

One year ago, Pakistan faced unprecedented floods that directly affected over 33 million people, with an alarming 20.6 million requiring urgent humanitarian assistance. The aftermath was severe, displacing 7.9 million individuals and destroying more than 2 million homes.

Despite the water receding, the aftermath of this natural calamity remains palpable. Presently, over 1.5 million people remain displaced. Essential necessities such as food and shelter continue to be unattainable for a significant portion of the affected population—more than 40 percent reliant on humanitarian aid for survival.

While immediate concerns of food, shelter, and water have garnered attention, the prevalent climate anxiety within the flood-affected communities across Pakistan has been overlooked.

Though the term “climate anxiety” is relatively new, it echoes a distress that these communities have endured for a prolonged period. With the growing threat of climate change, floods in Pakistan have become more frequent, subjecting certain communities to a continuous cycle of displacement and despondency. Exhaustion stemming from climate-induced disasters has begun to take a toll on these communities, leaving them fatigued and increasingly anxious about the looming specter of recurring catastrophes.

Men, women, and children residing in these flood-affected regions live in fear of an uncertain future. They grapple with the harsh reality of lacking adequate preparations to confront subsequent floods, without clear plans for shelter should their already fragile homes become uninhabitable.

These communities continuously struggle to meet fundamental survival needs, and the anxiety about repetitive climate-related disasters further compounds the uncertainty in their lives.

Despite Pakistan contributing minimally to the global climate crisis, it remains among the most vulnerable countries to climate change effects. As the nation contends with the profound impact of climate change, climate anxiety is expected to surge, particularly among the most vulnerable segments of the population.

Gul Khatoon, who experienced the devastating floods while seven months pregnant, expressed deep apprehension about the future her children will inherit due to recurring destruction in their village. Abida, a single mother of five, lamented the inability to provide for her children as she did before the floods. Arjun, facing multiple demolitions of his house due to floods, voiced feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. Qari Saeed, echoing the sentiments of many in D.I. Khan, expressed concerns about being trapped in a cycle of vulnerability.

The remnants of their once-thriving village left community elders in district Shikarpur contemplating their fate. Sania, a 15-year-old girl, embarks on a strenuous daily journey to procure clean water, her physical exhaustion mirroring her mental strain. Ali Bux fears that all efforts to rebuild his land might go in vain if another flood strikes. Ali, a four-year-old, experienced post-flood distress, praying for safety and a dry monsoon season during Eid. Fatima Bibi, responsible for her six children, including two with disabilities, worries about their future and her inability to care for them indefinitely in the face of recurring floods.

These stories embody the deep-seated anxieties plaguing these communities, illustrating the profound impact of climate-induced disasters on their lives and futures.

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