QUETTA / ISLAMABAD: The Baloc­histan government on Wednesday declared 32 out of the total 34 provincial districts “calamity-hit” as Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman hinted that at least $10 billion would be required to rebuild climate resilient infrastructure to mitigate the impacts of global warming.

Since monstrous rains that started in June, at least 254 people have been killed in Balochistan and 1.3 million people have been forced to locate, the Balochistan chief minister’s adviser Mir Ziaullah Langove said in a press conference alongside Chief Secretary Abdul Aziz and Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Director General Naseer Ahmed Nasar.

The officials said at least 10 districts — Quetta, Nasirabad, Jaffarabad, Sohbatpur, Jhal Magsi, Bolan (Kachhi) Khuzdar, Lasbela, Qila Saifullah and Qila Abdullah — were particularly hit hard by the unprecedented floods that levelled crops and destroyed thousands of houses.

Mr Langove said so far 29,000 people were rescued and added that 185,000 houses were partially damaged while 64,000 houses were completely washed away in the floods. He said that 500,000 livestock were killed during floods as well.

Sherry warns of looming health crisis, says over $10bn needed to rebuild infrastructure resilient to climate change

He said that the government and NGOs have provided 98,000 people rations for one month whereas 40,000 tents were provided to the flood-stricken families.

He added that 150,000 tents were needed at least.

Chief Secretary Abdul Aziz informed that the government has given compensation of Rs2 million each to the heirs of 170 people who lost their lives in flood-related incidents while the cases of remaining victims would finalise in the next few days.

He said that NHA was working to restore national highways and in the next three to four days these roads would be opened for traffic. The railways bridge could take several weeks to become operational though.

The five districts of Nasirabad division were still submerged, according to the officials of the Irrigation department who termed these regions ‘green belt’ of Balochistan. Meanwhile, hundreds of families in the villages of the said division remained stranded as these areas had become inaccessible after washing away of roads. The authorities however have managed to provide them with food and water through helicopter sorties.

Quetta and seven other districts were still without gas and power supply. The SSGC engineers started replacing damaged gas pipelines on Tuesday and work had reached near completion on the 12-inch diametre pipeline but the main pipeline, 24-inch diametre, needed at least two more days to be repaired.

The power supply was also not fully restored and at least two-third of Balochistan was without power by the time this report was made.

‘Need $10bn to rebuild better’

In Islamabad, Senator Sherry warned of a health crisis in the post-flood scenario, saying the flood-hit regions will be exposed to water-borne diseases.

Speaking at a press conference alongside Commerce Minister Syed Naveed Qamar and Senator Shahadat Awan, she said 72 districts out of the total 160 districts were submerged and had been declared calamity-hit areas. In total, she said 110 districts were affected by the floods making it half of the country.

Read: WHO says 6.4m in dire need of humanitarian aid as flood-triggered crises swirl

Calling it a moment of extreme fragility for the country, Sherry Rehman said at least 33 million affected population was in dire need of potable water, cooked food, and basic medical care.

“We are under-resourced at the moment, but we implore everyone to donate as much as possible to reliable organisations. We have repurposed our funds to service the relief effort, including the BISP cash transfers, to deal with the immediate calamity. It is still not enough. All of us must stand united in the face of this devastation,” she said.

Speaking about rehabilitation, the senator said, “The task of rebuilding in places has already begun, but it will be a mammoth task. If we are to build back better, it will require more than the $10 billion that is being talked about.”

The minister said climate resilient infrastructure was expensive and required scientific designs with fortifications to withstand climate shocks. “The same will be the case for [climate-resilient] crops, she said, adding that at present all of Sindh’s crop was nearly wiped out.

Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2022

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