When heavy rains and flash floods in late August burst the Indus River, Bushra Sarfaraz’s three goats drowned, leaving her homeless again.
The first was the 2010 Pakistan floods. The worst in recent memory, this year has flooded vast swaths of low-lying land in what officials describe as the worst natural disaster in the country’s history.
“I want to live in a place where I don’t get swept away again and again,” near Thatta, Sindh province in southern Pakistan.
Some of the people who were evacuated by the disaster returned home after the water receded. Some people live in
“Every year the water comes and every year we drown,” said Kurban Ali Lashari, another worker who has been forced from her home by floods and lives in tent camps.
The disaster puts Pakistan at the forefront of evolving thinking in the international community about how countries should pay for adaptation to the wrath of global warming and who should take up the bill. . According to a study by the World Weather Attribution group, climate change contributed up to 50% of the rainfall in Sindh and neighboring Balochistan, which was the wettest on record this August.
The Pakistani government said the floods affected 33 million people out of a population of 230 million, hitting the low-lying and usually dry southern provinces hardest. The flat land with little slope has nowhere to drain the water that fell in August and September, and it evaporates slowly in the dry weather.
Pakistan is now preparing to seek new loans from donors to clean up and rebuild infrastructure that can withstand worsening weather patterns, an effort estimated to cost $30 billion. increase.
“If you look at the numbers, this is the climate event of the century, not just for Pakistan, but for the whole world,” said Climate Change Minister Sherry Lehmann. causing it.”
Sarfaraz and Rashali live in Thatta Camp, where they are treated for water-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and diarrhea. “Skin diseases are very common today,” said Shireen Soomro, a camp doctor.
International and Pakistani officials have also warned that many farmers would not be able to sow their crops for months after floods severely submerged their fields. prices have soared in the past year, raising concerns about food security, they say.
Pakistan was already in serious financial trouble when the disaster struck. Days before the downpours and flash floods hit, Islamabad had secured much-needed loan commitments from China and the Gulf states and her $2.2 billion bailout from the IMF.
The UNDP, which has completed an assessment of the country’s recovery and reconstruction needs, suggested last month that Pakistan should try to suspend payments on its $130 billion external debt so that it can prioritize disaster response.
“Honestly, we cannot pay off the debt,” said Sakib Sherani, chief executive of consultancy Macroeconomic Insights. “With or without the flood, there would have been problems in the next fiscal year.”
Some climate activists believe that Pakistan’s floods are “climate compensation” — from a rich country with the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions to a poor country with low emissions but bearing the brunt of climate change. It claims to strengthen the financial transfer claims of
But in a country with a history of massive government corruption and deteriorating relations with lenders, officials have rejected the idea and carefully honed their pitches to donors.
Speaking to the Financial Times earlier this month, Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif denied rescheduling, rejected the concept of “reparations” and said Pakistan needed “climate justice” in the form of new loans for recovery and reconstruction. Stated. A donor conference will be held in Paris in November.
Pakistan, as chair of the G77 group of developing countries, is also expected to speak on the issue at the United Nations Climate Summit in Egypt.
Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal told the FT that the government wanted bilateral support from the US and EU countries. He expressed his desire to use his influence in multilateral institutions to cover the cost of rebuilding destroyed infrastructure and to provide preferential market access to Pakistani exports. did.
“Our challenge is that we lost a lot of foothold in our development journey. We were thrown back,” he said. It’s not our fault. It’s because of climate change. ”
Markets are pricing in worsening financial troubles in Pakistan after the floods. Its Sovereign of 2024 His Eurobond now boasts a yield of over 80%.
Moody’s Investors Service this month further downgraded Pakistan to Caa1 ‘junk’ territory, citing ‘higher debt sustainability risks’ after the floods. Pakistan’s Finance Ministry disputed the downgrade, saying it had sufficient liquidity to continue servicing its debt.
In Islamabad, local officials in Thatta are deploying mobile medical teams and providing food rations to sustain those living in tent camps, so the government is readying for the next disaster on a massive scale now. Insist on building.
“For us, this is a defining decade, not 2040 or 2050,” said Rehman. “We are clearly in a rush towards the 3rd [warming] It’s an uninhabitable world for countries near the equator and those that are resilient to climate change, and climate resilience is costly. “
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