Faced With Flooding, Karachi Faces An Unpredictable Future

Karachi, Pakistan

Karachi has been pummeled by a devastating bought of rainfall escalated by poor sewage systems.

Throughout the city, many dealt with the fallout of devastating rainfall and each of Karachi’s two ruling parties, PPP (Pakistani people’s party) and MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement) denied responsibility for an easily preventable catastrophe. Poor sewage systems prevented proper drainage to waterways, resulting in catastrophic floods and loss of life.

Climate change adaptation is one of the main issues raised by the United Nations, who are constantly asking global governments to prepare for climatic changes as a consequence of global warming.

Extreme weather events are likely due to climate change and wet weather disasters are becoming unpredictable. Karachi’s yearly average rainfall is 18.11mm and its highest rainfall period is during monsoon season, in July, where it experiences approximately 85mm of rain. In August 2020, Karachi was delivered an exorbitant 484mm of rainfall of which the effects were exacerbated by poor water management adaptation.

The floods are made even more difficult due to nationally devolved powers, in which the central government is unable to step in and assist, even in times of crisis.

The Pakistani Army and Navy have however been deployed for rescue efforts in flooded areas including poverty-stricken districts as well as affluent neighbourhoods such as Defence Housing Authority (DHA).

Climate adaptation is not at the forefront of media chatter, and the link between extreme weather events and climate change is not readily made. Although single weather events cannot be concluded as negatively attributable to climate change, it is not a stretch in this era to connect any and all extreme weather events to it. Doing so may create a sense of urgency needed to prevent future calamities.

The budget for Pakistan’s Ministry for Climate Change in 2018/19 was (Rupees) Rs802.69 million (approximately £3.6 million). This was then increased to Rs7.5 billion for 2019/20, but cut to Rs5 billion for 2020/21 (from approximately £33.6 million to £22.4 million) which in light of current events is not enough.

41 people have died so far including children. The floods are the heaviest in almost a century.