ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman on Thursday said the monster monsoon floods had washed away 45% of country’s cropland that was mainly in Sindh inundated under floodwater and incurred cumulative damages of $10 billion.
Addressing the COP In My City summit jointly held by the Ministry of Climate Change and UNICEF here, the Ministry briefed the young leaders on the vulnerability of the country due to climate change and cataclysmic climatic faced by the country. Sherry said, “We are standing at the precipice of a very fragile time linked to climate change as there is no match to the natural catastrophe that covered 70% of the country under water which is equal to the size of the United Kingdom.”
She said Sindh province was the food basket of the country and its 45% areas was washed away due to heavy flooding in the area which would bring economic shocks in the future. Senator Sherry Rehman said the Pakistani youth was integrated and pertinent to change their future and it was time to shake their conscience. “My generation had the carbon intensive life style and you will have to define at one level that what we have to change in our life.”
The minister underlined that the country was facing the 9th monsoon spell and crossed the devastation of 2010 floods having no precedent to it. “No such environmental and humanitarian crisis has occurred before and we should consider this as the decade’s major climate event. 70% of Pakistan is underwater because of a climate catastrophe. Made no mistake it’s all man made disaster and it will not go back automatically.”
She underscored that she had briefed the federal cabinet prior to floods that climate change represents a national security threat as it impacted 9.1% of its GDP. A lot more than 33 million are effected due to floods, she said, adding, “We will be late in our response because no one expected over a high monsoon spell which was predicted high.”
“Our folklore and songs had been on monsoon season which used to be of 2-3 spells but this is monster flood.
Our helicopters could not get of the grounds due to persistent rainfall and inclement weather.” She added that the 2005 earthquake response was active and prompt as it had a coordinated effort that helped expedite response and rescue measures.
But this time, she said the disaster magnitude was incalculable as the floodwater was stagnant and not receding or evaporating for instance Sindh had become a huge oceanic lake and it was heavy downpour in the south which was a flat region and also lashed by hill torrents. The Minister mentioned that there was need to create new tools and utilise resources, military, civil disaster management machinery and others for proactive and coordinated response.
“It’s a Humanitarian disaster that’s why UN came with a flash appeal. However, the UN secretary general will visit Pakistan soon. This is the largest hydromet disaster in the history of Pakistan. Young people need to be mobilised and in 2005 we did it faster because the civilian side was faster catching up with the pace of armed forces and media.” She added that almost 5,000 km metal roads had ripped out due to massive inundation that would require huge capital to restore.
“We will have to assist each other and the polarisation needs to be healed. We have to unite for the sake of our country which is under threat because people has to be secure first and we are all together facing this disaster.” She also lauded the UN Secretary General statement underlining that climate disasters could not stop in Pakistan, adding, “Pakistan is on the ground zero of climate change and we are the frontline.”
On the occasion , UNICEF Country Representative Abdullah A Fadil said climate change impacts to have drastic outcomes whereas the youth would have to hold it’s government accountable for poor climate resilience and adaptation as everyone had to play it’s part for conservation and protection of the environment. He also appreciated the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for effectively managing the impending risk of flood in Noushera district which was mitigated through developing protective embankments which was good example of climate adaptation.
The experts from British Council, UNICEF, IGES addressed the summit whereas the university students indulged in vibrant debates and discussion on environmental issues and climate change. The summit would be annual feature to be hosted by the Ministry and its partners to apprise the youth of the country with the global forum of Conference of Parties meeting every year under the aegis of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.