Pakistan covers an area of 796,096 km2 which stretches from Himalayan Mountains in the north to the Arabian Sea in the south. Pakistan’s climate is predominantly semi-arid to arid and is typically depending on geographical location, it possesses four seasons: a cool and dry winter period (December to February), hot and dry spring (March to May), rainy summer or monsoon period (June to September) and a retreating monsoon period (October and November).
In recent two decades, climate change is altering the pattern and duration of seasons. It has led to rising temperatures in the region which as a consequence has resulted in increased melting of glaciers. Winter has also seen heavy snowing, increasing further danger of flooding as the snow melts and water in addition to the one coming down from the glaciers make the rivers and canals overflow. In addition to this, hasty air currents from the Bay of Bengal and subsequent depressions result in heavy rainfall in the Himalayan regions of northern Pakistan causing the rivers to swell leading to regular flooding.
Riverine floods are a common phenomenon and are predominantly caused by concentrated rainfall in river catchments areas during the monsoon season; that are sometimes compounded by increased glacier melt. This leads to human fatalities and damage or destruction of houses and public buildings.
Extreme flooding and drought in recent years has sparked repeated national emergencies. Recalling July 2010, Pakistan suffered nationwide floods after unprecedented monsoon rains. Areas badly affected in KP included District Swat, Shangla, Upper and Lower Dir, Malakand, Mansehra, Charsadda, Mardan, Peshawar, Nowshera, Kohat, Karak, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, D.I. Khan and Tank. Disastrous flooding in 544 villages of 24 districts in KP severely damaged 257,294 houses, 1,790 watercourses, 121,500 hectares of cropped area and affected a population of 3.8 million resulting in life loss of 1,156 persons with 1,198 injured. Power and communication lines were also badly damaged.
The National Disaster Management Ordinance (NDMO) 2006 was introduced by the Government of Pakistan to provide legal framework for disaster risk reduction at a federal, provincial and district level. In 2010, the framework was enacted under National Disaster Management Act. NDMA was made responsible for devising guidelines and implementing programs on disaster risk reduction, preparedness, capacity building, response and recovery. The initial response to the floods will be coordinated by NDMA and carried out by PDMAs, DDMAs, local population, philanthropists and Army. It follows the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) and describes strategies aimed to reduce losses caused by disasters (e.g. lives, social, economic and environmental).
Unfortunately, flooding not only disrupts many people’s lives each year, but it frequently creates personal tragedies when people in large numbers dies in these floods. Massive efforts to mitigate and redirect inevitable floods are needed. Addressing the problem through well-crafted and thought out strategies can reduce vulnerability and increase capacity of the communities to cope with floods in future. Additionally, the government and disaster management agencies can play a significant role in minimizing the vulnerability to floods by strengthening physical and socio-economic capacities through education, training and awareness about precautionary and mitigation measures. Therefore, there is a need to invest more in disaster management and climate change in order to avoid its adverse impact on the lives and economy of the country.