Disaster: Pakistan’s Floods Weren’t Necessary




Pakistan’s Floods Weren’t Necessary Flooding in Pakistan has caused over 1,300 deaths, damaged over 1.7 million homes, and disrupted the food supply.

These “natural disasters” are generally seen as inescapable and unpredictable. Climate change is also blamed for more calamities.

Decades of studies reveal disasters stem from vulnerabilities, not climatic or environmental factors. Lack of power and resources to prepare for threats causes vulnerability. Poor infrastructure, social marginalization, and unfairness limit schooling and other services.

A disaster occurs when people cannot cope with a hazard or its repercussions using their resources. Hazards often harm people when resources are low.

Framing a flood as a “natural disaster” ignores the fact that vulnerability is necessary for a crisis to arise. The calamity was caused by governments not preparing citizens for these threats. Disaster can be avoided regardless of flooding severity.

Flood risk is high. Pakistan’s Floods Weren’t Necessary


Disaster: Pakistan's Floods Weren't Necessary


Pakistan has seen frequent flooding throughout history. This is the sixth flood in the country since 1950 to kill over 1,000 people. Flood risk management efforts have increased due to these events.

Flooding is a major risk. Many management measures may have unintentionally exacerbated flooding. Urban expansion in Pakistan has worsened surface runoff due to poor implementation.

Structural approaches dominate flood risk management in Pakistan. Despite data indicating that relying on them may aggravate the impact of flooding.

People often consider designed structures as safe and protected. Assuming the infallibility of these institutions, people modify their lifestyles appropriately. When major floods break these structures, flooding damage is amplified.

Over 135 people died in 2005 when the Shadi Kaur dam in southern Balochistan burst amid severe rains. The recent floods have destroyed eight dams in the same area.

Pakistan has neglected nonstructural risk mitigation in favor of large-scale infrastructure and response. Few solutions exist to address vulnerability for many.

A 2016 study found that people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, were unaware of flood hazards and preparation methods. A literacy percentage of 57% limits risk reduction knowledge access.

Numerous people use floodplains for agriculture, making them particularly vulnerable. Investing in warning systems is ineffective if people lack the knowledge or resources to act.

Gender inequality persists in rural Pakistan. Women are especially susceptible to flooding due to employment and education concerns.

Extensive damage from this year’s flooding is expected. Nearly 70,000 people are in temporary camps in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to flooding.

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Addressing Pakistan’s Risk

The existing flood management measures in Pakistan do not effectively address vulnerability. Although flood management is moving away from centralized and post-disaster techniques, progress has been modest.

Pakistan must move quickly to address the vulnerability’s root causes. People need greater flood risk knowledge and preparation resources. Without major reforms, calamities will continue. This must involve effective governance, safe land use, and full education.

Climate change due to human activity has significant effects on weather. Extended high rains caused devastating floods in Pakistan this year. However, human actions caused the resulting tragedy.

Pakistan has flood prevention tools. However, these resources are poorly distributed. Climate change affects flood frequency but not disasters. Where vulnerable individuals exist, disaster strikes.

River Flood. Pakistan’s Floods Weren’t Necessary

Many major urban centers and coastal locations in sub-Saharan Africa have experienced more floods. This has caused thousands of deaths, millions of displacements, and billions of dollars in property and agriculture damage. Unfortunately, climate change has increased flood frequency and tendency in the ARC Member States in recent decades.

ARC Member States want ARC to design and offer a flood insurance product to enable countries to respond quickly to floods. There are regional and national flood early warning systems, but no operational system for economic loss estimation to support a sovereign insurance policy. Thus, ARC and JBA proposed a probabilistic approach to create a realistic and adaptable parametric flood insurance solution.

The suggested method generates daily fluvial flood assessments for each country and calculates impacts. The flood model generates conventional risk indicators (people affected, economic losses, average annual loss, etc.) at several spatial aggregations and exposure types.

Four steps of modeling support disaster risk finance for flood impacts in ARC Member States:

Probabilistic catastrophe flood modeling for country risk profiles.
Development of parametric insurance triggers using probabilistic output.
Monitor and forecast flood events and implications daily.
Paying countries when parametric triggers are surpassed.

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and the European Commission’s Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS) model inundation characteristics (flood extent and depth) and estimated flood impacts (people affected and economic losses) using global streamflow forecasts to monitor daily 10-day forecasts. Flood risk data inform parametric insurance thresholds and pricing.


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