KARACHI: Pakistan is still helpless to combat climate change induced devastations like floods, rains and droughts due to lack of interest by almost all successive governments in raising environment budget and taking practical steps to counter its impacts in real sense.
Political polarization has also added to the lack of governments in tackling climate change which has become a global issues, particularly for Pakistan. It is matter of great concern that even current low level floods have brought massive loss of lives and properties across the country.
The latest report issued by National Disaster Management Authority NDMA said floods and rains had killed 209 people, affected 550 villages and damaged 40707 houses partially and 18997 others fully, marooned 1331760 people, damaged 1242138.25 acres of crops and perished 4793 cattle. Pakistan also faces climate change problems due to lack of public awareness and education in environment filed, which needs to be boosted on modern lines. The rise in intensity of climate disasters has added to the burden of managing environmental sustainability.
Economic Survey of Pakistan says the country suffered a loss of 8.84 percent of its GDP each year from environment related disease. Almost half of this cost is caused by mortality 4.13 percent of GDP while the rest stems from the malnutrition caused by environment related disease 4.71 percent of GDP. Approximately 90 percent of typhoid and diarrheal illness in Pakistan is attributable to inadequate drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. Up to 83,500 deaths a year are linked to these causes. Morbidity linked with waterborne diseases amounts to 74.5 million cases per year.
“The UN reported that 2.5 million children and 1.2 million women were affected by the floods in 2011, while 744,000 people were displaced. With 46 percent of health facilities damaged, the vulnerability of women and children have increased in the affected areas. The children who are pushed out of schools are estimated at over 733,000. 60 percent schools were damaged in Sindh alone. Acute Respiratory Infections ARI and skin infections represent major health risks in flood affected areas. Women are at high risk due to disruption in the provision of pre and post natal care. Migration has taken place largely due to non-availability of fodder in flood affected areas. Approximately, 1015 percent of the affected population is engaged in nonfarm livelihoods, including fisheries, which are severely affected by the rains,” added Economic Survey of Pakistan.
According to a World Bank commissioned report, “the world is on track to a “4°C world” marked by extreme heat waves and life threatening sea level rise. Adverse effects of global warming are “tilted against many of the world’s poorest regions” and likely to undermine development efforts and goals. Bank eyes increased support for adaptation, mitigation, inclusive green growth and climate smart development.”
Many environment policies have been formed by successive governments but they have still not been implemented in real sense, leaving the country and the nation to face natural disasters. Climate change related policies, number of projects has been funded by federal and provincial governments to improve the capacity of relevant institutions to deal with increasing environmental degradation but there is no significant progress yet.
The ongoing projects are under implementations in order to address policy measures such as Sustainable Land Management to Combat Desertification in Pakistan, Global Change Impact Study Centre, Establishment of Clean Development Mechanism CDM Cell, National Conservation Strategy Resource Centre, Establishing National Multilateral Environmental Agreements MEAs. Secretariat Program, National Awareness campaign on Energy and Environment Conservation, National Bio safety Centre, etc.
The present democratic government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif needs to implement climate change and other environment policies to save the country from floods, rains and droughts triggered by the climate change. There is need to raise budgets all four provinces of the country and establish full-fledged environment ministry at federal level.