Between work and safety: Responding to the floods in Pakistan

Flooding in Pakistan has affected 33 million people and caused billions of dollars in damage to homes and infrastructure. Photo: UNDP Pakistan/Ali Yar

Catastrophic floods have affected 33 million people in Pakistan — including our United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) staff. Some were displaced when water entered their homes, while others had floods damage their crops. Fortunately, they have all remained safe.

Despite being impacted, our teams have stepped up to ensure that UNDP responds to the growing needs on the ground. We are working closely with the Government of Pakistan and partners in assessing damages and setting up recovery programmes.

As work intensifies amid rising waters, we are in close contact with our staff to ensure their well-being and respond to their needs.

Sohail Khan, Security, Balochistan

Security officer Sohail Khan saw houses in his neighbourhood collapse due to the flooding. Photo provided by Sohail Khan

“We saw a glimpse of what climate change looks like in Balochistan. In the last week of August, heavy rains continued for more than 24 hours causing heavy flooding in my city. Evacuation orders were issued as houses in my neighbourhood started collapsing. Rainwater also entered my house but thankfully did not cause a lot of damage.”

Muhammad Marri, Communications, Balochistan

My area is not used to the type of rains we received in the month August. People are still stranded in neighbouring districts. The only way to leave or travel in some areas is by boat. Some families are staying back because they do not want to leave without their livestock.

The flooding has caused damage to farmlands, roads and bridges, leaving some areas isolated. Photo: Muhammad Marri

Nazakat Jabeen, Monitoring and Evaluation, Gilgit-Baltistan

Flash floods also struck our village where 10 people lost their lives and 150 families were impacted. Displaced people found safety in neighbouring villages but unfortunately most of what they left behind was destroyed by the water. Our elders are shocked as even the safest areas in the village were impacted.

Kashmala Javaid, Operations, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

“We were given three hours to evacuate our home. The most difficult part was to think of important belongings we would take with us as there was a chance that water would flood our house. I relocated to Islamabad and continued to work until the situation improved back home.”

Amanullah Khan, Environment Portfolio, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Environment specialist Amanullah Khan (left) says communities are pulling together to help neighbours in need. Photos: Amanullah Khan

“We live in the centre of Mardan. Our family has a tradition of supporting the community in tough times. For these floods, we did a quick survey to identify the most-affected places and spoke to people to learn about their needs. My aunt is leading the efforts and I support her after work.”

A sharp reminder of the reality of climate change, the flooding in Pakistan comes on the heals of a severe heatwave and droughts. Photos: Sohail Khan

The floods, that followed a period of extreme heat, droughts and glacial lake outburst floods earlier in the year, have caused billions of dollars of damage. Farmlands, roads and bridges have been destroyed. A grave reminder of the reality of climate change.

Our staff is helping us make a pivot for existing programmes and set up new ones to help communities get back on their feet with immediate focus on infrastructure and livelihoods. The international community must move quickly to support with resources and expertise to help Pakistan build forward better from this climate catastrophe.

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