The monsoon season of 2022 saw unprecedented levels of rainfall across Pakistan, particularly in the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. This caused flash flooding across the country, which was one of the deadliest natural disasters that Pakistan has ever seen. Sadly, over 1,700 people lost their lives in the floods, including more than 520 children.
The calamity has caused many to question exactly how did Pakistan floods happen.
We will provide a summary in this article.
How bad were the floods in Pakistan in 2022?
Described as the worst flood in Pakistan’s history, the 2022 floods have had devastating, long-term consequences for tens of millions across the country.
Nearly 8 million people are reportedly displaced, as the ravaging floodwater has washed away villages, homes, buildings, schools, hospitals and places of worship. Transport links have also been cut off, as the floods have destroyed roads and bridges, as well as gas pipelines, which have suspended gas supply to many towns.
The floods have damaged and contaminated water sources and water supply lines, leaving people with the horrendous choice of either drinking polluted water or dehydrating it. In a country where 79 million people were already lacking access to a proper toilet, this problem has been greatly exacerbated, as the floods have caused major damage to sanitation facilities.
Also, the agricultural sector has faced huge losses- the floods have destroyed at least 4 million acres of crops. This means that millions of farmers, who are dependent on agricultural income to survive, have been left stranded with no money, livelihoods or assets.
In Pakistan, food prices were already high, due to Covid-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But now, the floods have hiked up prices further, so people across the country are facing major shortages of food. The catastrophic floods have also washed away 65% of Pakistan’s main food crops (including 70% of its rice).
So many sectors have faced financial damages due to the floods. For instance, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the energy and power sector has lost Rs 11.5 billion, while the public health engineering sector has lost Rs 4.8 billion.
How did Pakistan floods happen in 2022?
So, how did Pakistan floods happen?
Well, this is due to a combination of factors, including:
- Extreme torrential rainfall during the monsoon season
South Asia is prone to excessive rainfall during the monsoon season, but Pakistan is particularly vulnerable to recurring floods.
From June 2022, Pakistan experienced extremely severe rains during its annual monsoon season. Having received almost triple its average rainfall from June to August, this was the wettest monsoon on record. This ‘monster’ monsoon rainfall caused flash flooding and deadly landslides across Pakistan, with the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan being the worst hit.
With all this torrential rainfall, the river Indus, which runs through Pakistan, eventually burst its banks. Consequently, the water levels in Pakistan rose to dangerously high levels.
This non-stop heavy rainfall has wreaked havoc across Pakistan, having damaged and washed away dams, buildings, roads, crops and livestock.
- Climate change
Climate scientists have suggested that human-caused climate change helped drive the 2022 floods in Pakistan. In fact, climate change may have boosted 5-day rainfall amounts in the hardest-hit areas of Pakistan by up to 50%. This means that the natural disaster may not have been so catastrophic, without the impact of climate change.
Pakistan is responsible for less than 1% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions, yet the country is one of the worst affected by climate change and rapidly shifting weather patterns.
As more carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere, due to human activities, this leads to global warming. The climate change crisis disproportionately affects Pakistan, as the ongoing global warming has caused the average annual temperature in Pakistan to increase by about 0.5 °C since 1970.
As you can see, the global climate crisis has worsened the flooding in Pakistan and made it even more vulnerable to more flooding in the future.
- Melting glaciers in the Himalayas
In 2022, like many parts of the world, Pakistan experienced an extreme heatwave, with record-breaking temperatures, as high as 49.5 °C.
This caused many of its glaciers to melt rapidly. Shortly afterwards, the nation began experiencing torrential monsoon rains. This water then flowed to the land and caused the formation of high-elevation glacial lakes and ice dams.
The torrential monsoon rains then caused these ice dams to break and burst, which increased the volume of water submerging the land. These glacial lake outbursts worsened the flash flooding, as they caused more buildings, villages and infrastructure to be washed away.
Hence, melting glaciers exacerbated the flooding in Pakistan. As the earth gets hotter and hotter, glaciers are shrinking further. This is a huge global threat, as melting glaciers add more water to the earth’s oceans and cause rivers to swell. This can lead to the destruction of habitats and extreme weather conditions, such as flooding, heatwaves and even drought.
That is why melting glaciers is one of the clearest and most visible signs of the climate crisis.
- Insufficient flood defences
The copious amount of rainfall that fell in Pakistan in the year 2022 would have been overwhelming for any country to cope with. But Pakistan lacked the adequate infrastructure and flood defences to contain the destructive floodwaters.
Over the years, the country has implemented many flood protection measures, to mitigate the impact of natural disasters. However, there simply aren’t enough of these measures altogether, especially in the worst-hit regions such as Sindh and Balochistan.
Since the floods, the Pakistani government is now working on new flood management plans and rebuilding the infrastructure to help contain deadly natural disasters.
This is something that the Pakistan government urgently need to prioritise, as the region will be susceptible to more flash flooding, rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions in the future.
How much of Pakistan is still underwater?
One-third of the country- equivalent to the whole of Spain – is still submerged in water. While the receding water has allowed plenty of people to return to their homes, there are thousands of people who are still exposed to floodwaters, which present unseen dangers.
For example, dangerous, waterborne diseases such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid are spreading among surviving populations. There is no medical care to treat these ailments, as the floodwaters have damaged medical facilities.
Additionally, those living in the close quarters to floodwaters are also in danger of snake bites, scorpions, bites from stray dogs, as well as dengue, a viral disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes.
How is Zohra Foundation helping people affected by the floods in Pakistan?
As you can see, Pakistan urgently requires humanitarian aid. It is a low-income, developing nation which is striving to lift people out of poverty and difficult financial circumstances.
But, Pakistan can’t do this alone. The vulnerable people in Pakistan desperately need financial assistance, to repair their lives, following the devastating floods of 2022.
The floods have left thousands of people in a state of misery, despair and hopelessness. With no shelter, food, clean water, adequate sanitation or medical care, these people have little chance of surviving this crisis.
Our team is currently on the ground in Pakistan, distributing aid such as cooked meals, clean water, kitchen utensils, medicines, tents and hygiene kits, to help people recover from this devastating natural disaster. We have also started rebuilding homes, to offer shelter, safety and comfort to people who have been displaced during this tragedy.
Click here to donate to Zohra Foundation’s Pakistan Flood appeal today – every donation helps.
We are grateful for every donation we receive. Your donations are funding the essential supplies that so many vulnerable people urgently need at this moment after a natural disaster wrecked their lives.
Read more about the 2022 floods in Pakistan and our humanitarian work
To learn more, you may find it useful to read the following articles and web pages:
- Which parts of Pakistan are flooded?
- How can we stop floods in Pakistan?
- Why is Pakistan flooding so badly?
- How can I donate online in Pakistan?
- How to sponsor an orphan in Pakistan
- Is Pakistan running out of water?
- Pakistan Appeal
- Pakistan Donations
- Pakistan Poverty
Donate to Zohra Foundation
Zohra Foundation is a London-based, UK-registered charity organization that aims to improve the lives of millions of orphans, widows and the elderly throughout Pakistan and respond to emergencies in other parts of the world.
Our team is currently delivering emergency relief across Pakistan, following the devastating 2022 floods.
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Donate to Zohra Foundation’s Pakistan Flood appeal here.
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We hope this article has helped you better understand how did Pakistan floods happen in 2022.