The 2022 floods in Pakistan have unfortunately created a huge humanitarian disaster in the country. Around 33 million Pakistanis (one in every seven) have been impacted by the flooding, which has sadly killed over 1,700 people. Tens of thousands have been rendered homeless, as their homes, buildings, farmland, roads and bridges have been destroyed.
The country has been left reeling after the natural disaster, which is considered the deadliest that Pakistan has ever experienced.
In this article, we will answer the question ‘how much of Pakistan is under water?’
What caused the 2022 floods in Pakistan?
From June 2022, Pakistan saw heavy, torrential rains during its annual monsoon season. So unprecedented was the monsoon rainfall from June to August, that it was up to 190% more rain than the country’s 30-year average. Around 44,000 square miles of the land flooded, and rivers, canals and lakes began to overflow, and Pakistan soon became the epicentre of one of South Asia’s worst floods.
Climate change also helped drive the natural disaster. Pakistan has only contributed 0.4% of the world’s CO2 emissions since 1958, yet the country is one of the worst affected by climate change. Scientists have suggested that due to climate change, the monsoon has changed its traditional passage and is increasing in severity each year.
When humans pump more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, it results in warmer air, which holds the moisture longer and thus causes heavy monsoons. This means that Pakistan will continue to see excessive rainfall and more extreme weather events, as the global temperature will continue to rise.
Another contributing factor to the flood was the melting glaciers in the Himalayas. Due to the summer heatwave and global warming, glaciers in Pakistan’s mountains melted rapidly, causing glacial lakes and ice dams to form. The torrential monsoon downpour then cased these lakes and ice dams to burst, which released even more water to submerge the land, thereby worsening the flooding.
Research has also shown that the flood was so damaging because millions of people live in flood-prone areas in Pakistan, with outdated drainage, inadequate infrastructure and limited capacity to reduce risks. This demonstrates the urgent need for the Pakistani Government to upgrade drainage and flood management systems, to prevent such calamitous damage in the future.
Sadly, this won’t be the last natural disaster in Pakistan. The country has been flooded 67 times since 1947, and it is hugely susceptible to floods, earthquakes, drought, heatwaves and cyclones. It is particularly vulnerable to water-related disasters, as it is the only country in the world to have the most glaciers, outside the arctic circle.
What is the impact of the 2022 floods in Pakistan?
The scale of destruction caused by the floods is horrifying. The flooding has:
- displaced tens of thousands of people and forced them to flee their homes and neighbourhoods.
- damaged hospitals, clinics, schools, sanitation facilities and places of worship.
- deprived millions of people of their incomes, livelihoods and assets.
- killed livestock, including over 727,000 cattle- which has caused shortages of meat and milk products.
- washed away over 21 million acres of crops, depriving people of their agricultural income and food sources.
- caused the spread of dangerous diseases including malaria, cholera, dengue fever and dysentery.
- left pregnant, breastfeeding and menstruating unable to access maternity services and menstrual hygiene products in flood-stricken areas.
- polluted water supply lines and water sources, forcing people to drink contaminated water.
- increased people’s susceptibility to snake bites and scorpion stings, which can cause lasting disabilities and death.
- resulted in high inflation and high food prices, which is disproportionately impacting the poor.
- caused financial damages of over $14.9 billion.
- caused a loss of $1.30 billion in the rice, cotton and sugarcane industries in the Sindh province.
- created a mental health crisis in Pakistan, evidenced by a surge in the number of people seeking psychiatric treatment due to uncertain and deteriorating socioeconomic conditions.
- caused widespread shortages of electricity and gas for millions of people.
How will the 2022 flood affect the people of Pakistan in the year 2023?
The aftermath of the 2022 flood have been devastating. The natural disaster has serious, long-term implications for people’s physical health, mental wellbeing, and financial capability.
In the year 2023, the floods will:
- Push an estimated 9 million additional people into poverty.
- Exacerbate the hunger crisis, as people have lost their livestock and crops.
- Financially ruin the farming industry, as it will take years to cultivate the farmland which was previously fertile.
- Increase the risk of children drowning in areas where floodwaters are still 2 to 4 metres deep.
- Increase people’s susceptibility to bacterial infections, skin conditions and waterborne diseases, as sanitation facilities have been destroyed and water supplies have been polluted.
- Put people with chronic health conditions at greater risk of ill health, due to them losing their medications and missing out on medical treatment during the floods.
- Increase the demand for mental health treatment, due to the trauma of losing loved ones, homes, livelihoods and good health.
How much of Pakistan is under water?
The flooding began in June 2022, after excessive rainfall fell during the monsoon season.
This was a never-seen before situation in Pakistan, as the county’s climate minister Sherry Rehman described the flood as “one big ocean, with no dry land to pump the water out”.
So, how much of Pakistan is under water?
As of January 2023, the floodwaters are yet to recede, with the flooded areas now resembling a huge series of permanent lakes.
At a major conference hosted by Pakistan and the United Nations on 9th January 2023, the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that one-third of Pakistan has remained submerged underwater, over six months after the floods first struck.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif announced that $16 billion is needed for rehabilitation and reconstruction, half from Pakistan’s own budget, and the other half from international support.
The provinces of Sindh and Balochistan suffered the worst damage in the flood. Large swathes of these provinces remain flooded, with no hope for thousands of people to return to their homes and neighbourhoods.
In Balochistan, the flood waters have damaged over 200,000 acres of land, washed away 22 bridges and covered over 2,200 kilometres of roads.
While, in Sindh, the districts of Dadu, Larkana, Sukkur and Shahdadkot have turned into a lake over 60 miles wide, due to the overflowing of the River Indus.
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.
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.
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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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We hope we have answered the question ‘how much of Pakistan is under water?’