Urban Flooding & Climate Change in Pakistan
Climate change is known to have various impacts on different regions around the world, including increased risks of extreme weather events such as flooding. Pakistan is one of the countries that has experienced the effects of climate change, including urban flooding.
Urban flooding in Pakistan has become a significant concern due to a combination of factors, including rapid urbanization, inadequate infrastructure, poor drainage systems, and the changing climate. Intense rainfall events, often associated with climate change, can overwhelm the drainage systems in urban areas, leading to flash floods and inundation of streets, homes, and infrastructure.
The effects of urban flooding can be devastating, causing loss of life, displacement of people, damage to property and infrastructure, and disruption to essential services. Urban areas in Pakistan, such as Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar, have experienced severe flooding in recent years, highlighting the vulnerability of these regions to climate-related events.
According to the news sources, at least nine people were killed when record-breaking rain lashed Lahore on Wednesday, causing urban flooding and damage to infrastructure in several areas. The showers broke a 30-year-old record as the city received over 290mm of rain within a span of 10 hours. More than 200 mm of rain was recorded in more than a dozen areas across the city. The administration, all officers and staff of Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA) were mobilized for drainage. After several hours of effort in Lahore, the rain water could be removed from the roads and residential areas. Another spell of rain started on Thursday which is continuing in other cities including Lahore till writing this article.
This is not the first climate change event in the country this year. The plains of the country and Islamabad witnessed a severe heat wave in June 2023. From 18 to 24 June, severe heat wave with temperature more than 40 degree was recorded in provincial capital and other cities in Punjab. The temperature remained 04-06 °C above normal in upper and central Punjab, Islamabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and Kashmir. Whereas it remained 02-04°C above normal in Sindh, south Punjab and Parts of Baluchistan. People in Islamabad said that they had never experienced such a severe heat wave before. At the end of June, the coastal region of the country faced the threat of Cyclone Biprajoy, which is known as climate change activity.
The floods in Pakistan in 2022 impacted an estimated 33 million people and caused more than $40 billion in economic damages. The flooding left 1,700 people dead, 2 million homes destroyed, and killed over 900,000 livestock. The floods affected all four of the country’s provinces and approximately 15% of its population. Pakistan needed an amount of 16.3 billion US dollars for the rehabilitation of people displaced by floods. Despite the announcements of the international community, Pakistan could not get this amount. A large number of 2022 flood victims are still under the open sky. The flood victims of the year 2022 have not yet fully recovered as the NDMA has revealed a 72% probability of floods in the country in the year 2023.
Pakistan is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including increased temperatures, water scarcity, glacial melting, and more frequent extreme weather events. Pakistan has been actively engaged in international climate change negotiations and has ratified the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius.
Pakistan has also developed its National Climate Change Policy and is implementing various measures to address climate change, including promoting renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, water management, and climate-resilient infrastructure. The country has been working towards achieving its climate change goals, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing climate adaptation, and increasing climate finance.
Pakistan is eligible to access climate funds that have been established to support developing nations in their climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. These funds aim to mobilize financial resources to assist developing countries in transitioning to low-carbon, climate-resilient pathways. The funds include Green Climate Fund, Global Environmental Facility an adaption fund and various bilateral climate finance initiatives.
The collaboration and support of the international community are critical for Pakistan to effectively address climate change and build climate resilience. The efforts of international partners, combined with domestic actions and policies, can contribute to achieving sustainable development goals and ensuring a more climate-resilient future for Pakistan.