‘Left with nothing’: Record floods devastate Pakistan province

Naseebullah was having dinner with his four children last week when he heard some noise outside his house. Sensing danger, the 60 year old’s instincts as a former soldier kicked in.

A recent retiree from levies forces in Pakistan’s remote Balochistan province, Naseebullah rushed out of his small mud house in Muslim Bagh town – situated about 100km (62 miles) from Quetta, the provincial capital – only to hear a loud crash and the thunder of water gushing towards him.

While Naseebullah was able to save his family, some of his relatives were not as lucky.

“My brother lived next door and he had some relative’s children also staying with him. As soon as we managed to leave the house, the flood came crashing down and destroyed my house as well as my brother’s, taking him and the people inside away,” he said.

Pakistan is ranked eighth among counties most vulnerable to climate crises despite contributing less than one percent to global carbon emissions, according to the Climate Change Risk Index 2021.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) says since the beginning of the monsoon season in mid-June this year, more than 650 people have died across the country and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, with no respite from nature on the horizon.

Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest and most impoverished province, has been hit the hardest.

According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), more than 200 people have died in the province, 58 of them children, and more than 10,000 people were displaced from their homes.

Balochistan authorities say the floods have caused damage to more than 40,000 houses, of which 22,000 were destroyed. Nearly 700,000 acres (280,000 hectares) of crops across the province were lost, with the officials estimating the total loss incurred in the floods so far is $10m.

But the devastation is not limited to Balochistan alone, with almost all of Pakistan facing extraordinary amounts of rain this year. NDMA data till August 17 said the average rainfall this year was 267mm, compared with the 30-year average of 119mm – an increase of 124 percent.

Balochistan’s 30-year average was only 55mm and this year rose dramatically by 289 percent to 200mm of rainfall.

In neighbouring Sindh province, the 30-year average was 107mm but touched 375mm this year. The province has reported more than 140 flood-related deaths, including at least 66 children, this year.

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