Floods have become a norm rather than an exception in Pakistan. The country has been witnessing one episode after another of tragic floods for last many years. But the “Shareefs” have their own way of dealing with the challenges faced by the country – it is “The Shareef way”, as they call it. Take floods, for instance. Everybody knows it’s a recurring phenomenon in Pakistan yet the Shareef Bros have decided to mitigate the disaster by wearing long boots and shamelessly posing for the gentleman official photographer. “Kuch sharam hoti hai, kuch haya hoti hai!”

  The calamity has put socio-economic lives of the masses on stake. Factors such as unusual patterns of monsoon precipitation, failure to build water storage reservoirs, absence of an effective plan of action to deal with the natural calamities, absence of early flood warning mechanism and lack of political will on building dams remain primary reasons behind the occurrence of floods in Pakistan. Consequently, the impacts such as massive human causalities and large displacements, destruction of agricultural land and crops, damage of basic communication tools, health and food issues and a fatal blow to the economy have become the fate of the nation. Nevertheless, pragmatic steps such as, construction of new dams on priority basis, repair of existing water reservoirs, a functional plan of action, better rehabilitation mechanism and installation of early flood warning telemetry system can surely make the tragedy less devastating. To say the least, floods have to be tackled in a systematic and planned way rather than through ad-hoc measures if the country really wants to bring socio-economic uplift.

The                                                                         floods in KP are no exception to expose the government policies to deal with the natural calamities. Once again, the current floods have outnumbered the so-called strategies and plans by the government to deal with such calamities. This year too, people are again at the mercy of floods. The disastrous impacts which the floods have been unleashing to the people have been described in the proceeding paragraphs.

The floods have been wreaking the havoc across the country. Massive human causalities and large scale displacements are the primary outcomes of floods. In the floods of 2014 alone, the death toll was above the staggering four hundred. The floods resulted in wastage of almost 1.3 million acres of irrigated land. Indeed, it was a massive setback to a country whose major chunk of income comes from the agriculture sector. The recent floods of 2015 are mere a repetition of the same loss which the country has been suffering for many years. The plight of people really in a demand of much needed flood preventive measures.

Floods have been damaging the roads, bridges and other communication tools in the flood hit areas. The devastation of basic infrastructure would cost the ex-chequer millions in the future. The taxpayer’s money which must have been spent on health and education is being spent on building the same roads and bridges every year due to the courtesy of poorly handled floods by the authorities. The funds allocation must be shifted and allocated to those measures which could nip the evil of floods in the bud-pre calamity preparedness measures.

The floods have done an irrecoverable loss to the already shaking economy of the country. According to the Finance Ministry of Pakistan, the floods have resulted in an estimated 0.07 % reduction in the GDP in last few years. Local business activities, fisheries and industrial factories of flood hit areas have been totally vanished by the devastation of floods. Resultantly, a major portion of human capital is in a dire need of any source of employment. Economy is considered the backbone of any country so there must be something done to minimize the floods to push the economy upward. However, the pragmatic steps which are being discussed in the proceeding paragraphs can surely give a hope of dawn for the socio-economic development of the country.

Firstly, building new dams has become an inevitable matter and it will set the future course of socio-economic progress of the country. Pakistan really needs to build water reservoirs as it has been 36 years when the country built its last major dam. The recent floods stand evident that any moderate amount of water could cause countrywide destruction. Building new dams would also lead Pakistan to produce hydel energy which is considered to be one of the cheapest energy resources in the world. The sitting government and the opposition parties should be on board and must compensate the grievances of masses by building new dams across the country.

Secondly, Pakistan can be regarded as the best policy maker but the worst implementer. History bears witness that a lot of paper work had been done and is being done for the better disaster management in the country, but all has been an elusive dream in reality. The successive governments have always preferred ad-hoc measures instead of permanent solution of the problem. The issue of floods must be on top in the priority list of the sitting government and a functional plan of action at the preparedness and prevention phases of the calamity should be announced and most importantly implemented.

Thirdly, a much needed early flood warning telemetry system must be installed on the major rives of the country. It would lead to timely and much safer relocation of the people and their movable properties. None can stop the natural calamities but their loss intensities could be mitigated through an effective and efficient anticipation system in the country.

Last, but not the least, post-disaster issues such as, health, clean drinking water, bad sanitation and provision of basic food commodities must be handled carefully and provision of these fundamental needs must be ensured in the flood hit areas. The media and human aid organizations should play their positive role in this regard.

To conclude, prevention of floods has become a matter of life and death for Pakistan. The people of the country have really been let down by those at the helm of the country’s affairs. The poor masses have suffered and suffered harder at the hands of a grim disaster management system. They want a permanent and durable solution to the recurring calamity of floods. The authorities have to recognize the role that they ought to perform. The time has come to learn from the past and to ensure people that their lives and properties are not vulnerable to the floods anymore. Political parties, disaster management authorities, civil and military institutions, and other major stakeholders must be on the same page to protect the people from floods. Let us not allow floods to kill our people. Let us not allow floods to demolish our properties. Let us plan for a secure and floods-free Pakistan. It exists. It is real. It is possible.