The Staggering Problem Of Solving Climate Crisis

The Staggering Problem Of Solving Climate Crisis
Given the scale of destruction across the province, the work in progress (rehabilitation) is not proportionate to the urgent needs of climate victims living in pathetic conditions ultimately sacrificing their sources of survival for reconstruction of their houses.

The August 2022 ‘Monsoon on Steroids’ and subsequent flash floods brought in its wake destruction, displacement, death, and diseases in Pakistan in general and in Sindh in particular.

Hameed, a 35 year old man of town committee Khair MuhammadArija, Taluka Bakrani, DistrictLlarkana, lives in the debilitating verandah of his house, partially damaged by disaster in question as his only two rooms, were washed away by rains last year. He who was once bitten by a snake will be frightened at the sight of a noose best describes his traumatic conditions triggered by torrential rains. “The scene of gathering clouds above the sky haunts him forever,” said Hameed. He added on how he risks losing a dwelling that houses his four children, a wife, and old parents if it rained in the days to come; the settlement they are living under would collapse upon them consequently doing collateral damages.

This tells a tale of psychological impact faced by multitudes of populations living under the same conditions.

M.Aslam, a muezzin of Taluka Bakrani is father of three sons and were living in the same house which was fully destroyed by the abnormal rains last year. Tired of tent life the joint families were living, M.Aslam was compelled to sell a portion of the plot, a buffalo and goats in order to reconstruct his house. This symbolises the conditions of a great many people facing the same scenario and the doing the same.

To assess the damages and losses, a joint survey team was formulated.

This comprised of representatives of District Administration, local Government (UC Secretary), Provincial Disaster Management Authority, (PDMA), National Disaster Management Authority,(NDMA), and Pakistan Army officials. Alongside descriptive information; the survey team collected geo-tagged locations along with a picture of the CNIC, individuals, and damaged property.

This joint team estimated that about 2.1 million houses have been damaged with 1.44 million fully damaged and 0.65 partially damaged. As per this survey report, 31% of houses are partially damaged and 69% are fully damaged.

Out of this, 79% of houses are Kacha while 21% are Pakka. Around 79% of houses were fully destroyed by rains does demonstrate that it was the poor who bore the brunt of climate-induced cruelty that engulfed Sindh in particular and Pakistan in general.

The World Bank issued its press release in October 2022 that gave credence to post-disaster assessment having declared Sindh as the most affected province with close to a 70% of total damages, and losses, followed by Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.

This February, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari launched the Sindh Peoples’ Housing Foundation (SPHF) to implement post-disaster reconstruction, a joint venture of the Sindh Government and the World Bank, under which 2 million climate-resilient houses are to be constructed.

As per the Dawn report published on February 1 2023, while speaking at the workshop organised by SPHS, Chief Secretary Sindh Muhammad Suhail Rajput said that the World Bank, the Sindh government and the Federal government had committed to give $500million dollars respectively for the reconstruction.

According to him, PKR 300,000 (in installments) and PKR 50,000 respectively for completely and partially damaged houses were earmarked, that are to be reconstructed in collaboration with implementation partners such as National Rural Support Program (NRSP), Sindh Rural Support Organization NRSO, Thardeep Rural Development Program TRDP, SAFCO Support Foundation and HANDS.

Despite many attempts for an answer, the DC Larkana gave no response with regard to number of houses under construction and their salient features to be climate resilient.

However, as per an independent source the pace of work in progress is not proportionate to the urgent needs of climate refugees in terms of rehabilitation.

Reportedly, CM Sindh Murad Ali Shah said in his budget speech that 3.5 lakhs houses will be reconstructed for climate victims this fiscal year. A well-placed source disclosed that recently in Taluka Bakrani, UC, town committee chairman and councillors respectively elected on PPP ticket, and other notables linked to PPP, were asked to give ten names conditional to whose names were included in the joint survey. This smacks of favouritism.

Those favoured by the councillors based on personal favour or those politically affiliated to be picked up from the pool of climate victims when it comes to getting their destroyed infrastructure replaced with reconstruction.

In doing so, thousands of names from Bakrani other talukas of Larkana were selected and subsequently given to the concerned authorities. In response to my question about the issue in question, Mohsin Ali PPP vice president of Taluka Bakrani said “The PPP provincial government was making all- out efforts for the rehabilitation of climate victims despite financial constraints.”

Keeping in view the climate-induced damages and losses in 2022, the Sindh Government prepared a well-documented scale of devastation in a report titled titled “Sindh's Strategic Policy for Floods Response 2022, Priority Setting in the Post-Flood Context.” It inked the four pillars of the strategic policy which are:

  1. The first pillar of 'rectifying the systemic issues’ is to prioritise the longstanding problems that have plagued the province.

  2. The second pillar of 'the people-centered approach’ is to prioritize the human impact of floods that have directly disrupted the lives of more than 12.36 million people in Sindh.

  3. The third pillar of 'building upon the existing models' is to leverage the existing models to address Sindh's recovery plan and not necessarily reinvent the wheel.

  4. The fourth pillar of 'aligning the existing budgetary framework with resource commitments entails that despite the resource constraints, there is significant space available to review and refine the existing development portfolio and realign operational allocations to the sectors which will contribute towards human development and economic recovery.

The aforementioned press release by the World Bank made it clear that “this tragic disaster can be a turning point, where climate resilience and adaptation, increased domestic revenue mobilization and better public spending, and public policies and investments better targeted to the most vulnerable populations; all figure at the core of policy-making going forward.”

Before August Monsoon 2022, the prevalence of food insecurity was 56% of house holds in the calamity-hit districts in Sindh (3.9million people).In the flooded environment, the total number of food insecure people in Sindh reportedly rose 8.2 million. The biggest share of job losses (50% of national) has been estimated to be in Sindh i.e about 2.15 million job losses.

While summarising the financing gap, the Post -Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) mentioned that the estimated reconstruction financing needs for Sindh amount to US$7.86 billion.

With estimated donor commitments of about US$1.84 billion, a significant financing gap of US $6.02 billion remains for Sindh. Financial constraint is the issue. But, incompetence and lack of forward-looking policies and implementation of the same in letter and spirit is a bigger issue.

The Cyclonic Storm Biparjoy left administrative and law enforcement agencies on their toes in terms of evacuating the vulnerable pockets of population along the coastal belt. Reportedly, around 80,000 people were moved to safer places. The victims of past climate catastrophe in question have urgent needs in terms of shelter, and safety from seasonal impacts unleashed by both hot and cold weather.

Besides, when climate refugees/victims have not recovered from previous losses, and damages done by the rains and fury of floods, the next monsoon is about to knock on the doors of those waiting for the promised rehabilitation. This is a reminder to all those in decision-making centres.




The writer is a freelance contributor. He may reached at Nazeer tweets at @nazeerarijo.