The year 2010 was a significant one for flooding. China, Korea and countries across South East Asia, all suffered from terrible floods, many of them resulting in loss of life on a large-scale, as well as damage to housing, industry and agriculture.
2010 also brought terrible flooding to Pakistan. The worst affected area were the Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh, Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Flooding across the regions during that year resulted in almost 2000 fatalities and an estimated $40 plus billion dollars (US) worth of damage.
All of those figures and statistics sound bad enough and give any reader a good idea of the chaos and destruction brought by the floods. However, one particular statistic really hits home. According to the Pakistan Government, during the floods of 2010:
“A fifth of the country was underwater”
Pakistan is the world’s 34th largest country by land area, according to Wikipedia. About 20 million people were directly affected by the flooding through loss of homes or livelihood. That’s considerably more than, for example, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami (although it shouldn’t be overlooked that the terrible Tsunami disaster resulted in far greater loss of life).
The floods were as result of the heavy monsoon rains during July 2010. Some claims have been made that these heavy monsoon rains can be attributed to La Niña. This swelled the Indus River to catastrophic proportions around the Indus River basin and the areas of Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh, Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Below are some “before and after” pictures from space of the affected area along the river.
Before the floods:
After the floods:
The floods caused devastation of some of Pakistan’s most fertile agricultural areas, which in turn meant a lack of food and income for many millions of the Pakistani population. In September 2010, the World Food Programme declared:
about 70% of Pakistan’s population, mostly in rural areas, did not have adequate access to proper nutrition
Lack of clean drinking water was also a problem faced by many. Diarrhoea and gastroenteritis were a fact if lie for many, and there were also reports of cases of Cholera. The WHO reported that during this time around 10 million had been without safe drinking water.
In August 2010, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said:
“Up to 3.5 million children are at high risk of deadly water-borne diseases, such as watery diarrhoea and dysentery,”
“What concerns us the most is water and health. Clean water is essential to prevent deadly water-borne diseases. Water during the flood has been contaminated badly,”