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Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 386, 12 October 2022

Pakistani Media on Floods



Media outlook on climate change, national response, international response and impact of the floods

Anu Maria Joseph

From mid-June to September, Pakistan has been going through its worst humanitarian crisis in decades, caused by extreme torrential rainfall and devastating flash floods. According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the floods have impacted 33 million people, almost 1,559 people died, 12,850 others were injured and half a million were displaced. NDMA assessment says, in August alone, Pakistan received 166.8mm of rain, as opposed to the average of 48mm — an increase of 241 per cent. Sindh and Balochistan are the worst-hit regions witnessing a 784 per cent and 496 per cent increase in the monsoon torrents, respectively. The flooding has swept away homes, bridges, roads, crops and livestock, which according to the government has caused an estimated USD 30 billion in damages. 

The UN “Flash Appeal'' to fund Pakistan’s Flood Response Plan has announced USD 160 million in aid. The European Union has provided EUR 350,000 as immediate assistance to the people severely affected by the catastrophe, especially in Jhal Magsi and Lasbella districts of the western Balochistan province. The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced USD 10 million, the World Bank released USD 350 million, the World Food Programme USD 110 million, Japan USD 7 million, the Asian Development Bank USD 20 million, the UK USD 46.6 million and the US USD 31.1 million.

On 21 September, the Express Tribune reported, according to the official reports, since July, at least 318 people died of waterborne diseases including gastroenteritis, diarrhoea and malaria. The following are the major takeaways by the Pakistani media on the floods.

Climate Justice
In an opinion “A case of climate justice” by Surendar Valasai published in The News International, the author emphasizes upon the concept of climate justice and urgent global action. It explained how Pakistan became the worst victim of climate change and stressed the global debate of ‘climate justice’ where the effects are borne by the countries which are least responsible for its causes. According to the Global Climate Risk Index, Pakistan is the eighth most vulnerable country to climate change issues though it contributes only 0.4 per cent of global carbon emissions. Between 1952 and 2009, the temperature in the country rose by 0.3-degree celsius per decade. The extreme temperature followed by heatwaves in April and May this year is most likely to be the causes behind the ‘abnormal’ monsoon. 

Slow national response and impacts
An editorial in Dawn titled “Agricultural Recovery” explains how slow national response raises public concerns on immediate needs as well as relief and compensation efforts - especially when the floods have impacted Pakistan's economy, and agricultural sector and created serious food insecurity. The editorial explained the need for greater order and organization from the government side for effective relief efforts. Similarly, Dawn's editorial “Health Catastrophe” describes the insufficient health infrastructure which lags in Urban centres and the underserved in rural areas. The editorial also says how some parts of Sindh and Balochistan have an inadequate investment in primary health facilities. It also discussed the inequality that exists in the distribution of various healthcare services.

The Express Tribune editorial “Politicking amid floods” explains how the leaders of the major political parties are politicking and targeting each other. It mentions how government officials are using the media to claim they are doing what they could. whereas, the media report shows multiple areas with no food, shelter or aid reaching out. Government officials claim that there are areas which are difficult to reach, yet the media manages to get there with relative ease. The author also explains how the provinces of Sindh and Khyber -Pakhtunkhwa, despite having stable governments for a long time, have not done much to improve its flood preparedness or response.

International negligence and funding gaps
An editorial in Dawn Dawn titled “Funding gaps”, the author criticizes international negligence in the devastating floods. It says the developed states are spending billions of dollars on war, yet lag when it comes to developing states coping with catastrophes. It says US and EU funnelled billions into the Ukraine war, US’s Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns cost trillions, however, only few million for Pakistan's floods. The author raises concerns about how international appeals on debt reduction and flood relief for Pakistan have yet to receive a robust response. Especially, when UNICEF said, nearly USD 39 million which is less than a third needed has arrived for the country’s flood-affected children while their health, nutrition and education needs will only grow. 

Discrimination along the generational and gender lines
In an editorial in Dawn Dawn titled “The youngest victims,” the author talks about how the floods have severely impacted the rural areas, leading to increased poverty- likely to lead to a rise in child marriages. The article raises the need of how Pakistan's children should be at the heart of rehabilitation efforts. This year, Unicef reported 38 per cent of under-fives in the country are malnutrition which it describes as a “rising emergency” in Pakistan. 

Similarly, another editorial by Dawn, “Women in peril” talks about how the human cost caused by the flood would be higher for women than men. The author explains, in a patriarchal society like in Pakistan, where women’s Psychological and medical needs (washrooms, sanitary and childbirth kits) are ignored or far from met. Nearly 8.2 million women of reproductive age are affected by the floods among which around 650,000 are pregnant. 

References
Surendar Valasai, “A case for climate justice,” The News International, 3 September 2022
Agricultural recovery,” Dawn, 7 September 2022 
Health catastrophe,” Dawn, 5 September 2022
Politicking amid floods,” The Express Tribune, 26 August 2022
Funding gaps,” Dawn, 22 September 2022
The youngest victims,” Dawn, 19 September 2022
Women in peril,” Dawn, 16 September 2022

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