Gwadar deluge

Published February 29, 2024
GWADAR: Over 30 hours of continuous rainfall in the port city inundated entire neighbourhoods on Wednesday, with water entering people’s homes and displacing scores of families.—Dawn
GWADAR: Over 30 hours of continuous rainfall in the port city inundated entire neighbourhoods on Wednesday, with water entering people’s homes and displacing scores of families.—Dawn

GWADAR has been battered with severe rains — the worst since 2010 — with both the town and Ormara to its east cut off from other parts of Balochistan and Karachi. The local administration has declared a state of emergency and mobilised paramilitary forces for rescue and relief operations, highlighting the severity of the situation. The impact on daily life and livelihoods, especially for fishermen, is heartbreaking. Many have seen their boats — the very essence of their livelihood — destroyed or sunk, a blow that compounds the tragedy of homes submerged under four feet of floodwater. This disaster not only robs them of their immediate means to earn a living but also casts a long shadow on their future, with the road to recovery uncertain and daunting. As we stand in solidarity with the affected, it is crucial to spotlight the urgent need for better disaster management, particularly in regions like Gwadar, which often remain overlooked in the broader scheme of national priorities. The approach of another spell of heavy rains from Feb 29 to March 1, as forecast by the Met Office, adds to the urgency.

Pakistan is no stranger to catastrophic floods. It needs to better prepare for such events, both at the local and national levels. In Gwadar, a comprehensive disaster management strategy must encompass detailed risk assessments, community-based risk management, and infrastructure resilience. Strengthening sea walls, upgrading drainage systems, and implementing advanced early warning systems are pivotal. Also, developing evacuation plans, safeguarding livelihoods through financial safety nets, ensuring emergency healthcare, and promoting sustainable urban planning are crucial. Incorporating afforestation and coastal management further mitigates flood impacts. It is time to reinforce our commitment to safeguarding all lives and livelihoods, especially those in the most vulnerable regions. Let’s foster a resilient, inclusive country that is able to face the challenges posed by natural disasters. No community should be left to weather the storm alone.

Published in Dawn, February 29th, 2024

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