August 8, 2023
By Nadeem Khan
Along with its scenic waterscapes, Hanna Urak, which lies at a distance of about 20 kilometres from Quetta city, is also now dotted with the ruins of around 80 houses that had been so severely damaged in last year’s monsoon floods that they were rendered uninhabitable.
There is no government assistance for affected residents, like Maulana Ali Jan and his family who could not afford to rebuild their house. They are now residing in the city in a rented property.
“It is not just the homes and schools, all infrastructure was destroyed,” he said. “We could not have imagined that between Thursday and Friday, in the wee hours of August 26 of last year, that nearly all of Hanna will be in ruins. If it rains again like it did last year, Hanna Urak will be wiped out.”
Pakistan is among those countries experiencing disastrous effects of climate change, with unusually heavy rainfall and rapid glacier melt resulting in flash floods in parts of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and South Punjab.
According to a report issued by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) of Balochistan, roughly 115,800 residences were completely destroyed while another 125,000 were partially damaged during floods in August of 2022.
Hanna Urak’s residents earned their livelihood from plantations, many of which were also adversely affected by the floods. The area is at risk of being inundated again this year, but despite the devastation it suffered last year, the government has yet to afford Hanna Urak due attention.
“Right when the fruits had ripened for harvesting when divine punishment came down upon us,” said Hameedullah Khan Kakar, another affected resident. “It is divine punishment because of poor planning. Hanna Urak was declared a red zone when the floods hit last year, and there has been no reconstruction since.”
He added that roughly 70% of the plantations had been affected, and that the locals used their own machinery and manpower to recover as much cultivable land as possible.
“The 2022 flood completely devastated the infrastructure, especially our schools, plantations and our roads. Last week’s flash floods even washed away even the remaining unpaved roads.”
Around 475,000 acres of agricultural land was affected by last year’s floods. Meanwhile, the road leading to Hanna Urak has also not been repaired as of today. Much of the infrastructural reconstruction has been severely hampered by a dearth of funds, according to Director General of PDMA Jahanzeb Khan Ghorizai.
“Like last year, residents were given immediate relief goods and support such as tents, water tanks and food items,” he explained. “As for infrastructural things like rebuilding homes and roads, we all know how financially vulnerable not just us but the whole world is. Every country has been grappling with financial issues after the COVID-19 pandemic. Pakistan as well… the federal government is trying to work on this but there are some financial constraints.”
He added that there are very little resources with which the government is trying to utilize to the best of its ability.
“Climate change is a global phenomenon now, and globally there is work being done to counter it as well. Things like increasing plantations, monitoring the carbon factor, these are not for us because we are still learning about this.”
According to the PDMA report, 18 districts have been affected by floods since June 19 of this year. Experts have expressed fears that if climate change is not reversed, the severity of natural disasters and resulting human, economic and infrastructural loss will increase manifold.