Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has forecast less than average rainfall during April-May 2018, which will result in 1 to 2 degree rise in temperature and acute water shortage. Talking to Business Recorder, PMD Director General Dr Ghulam Rasul said that it is too early to forecast the extent of the rainfall during the monsoon season that normally begins in the first week of July in Pakistan. He said prediction/forecast for the season is based on data that is collected till end of May. 

DG said that due to increasing variability in climate, many early predictions become irrelevant, and the department has so far analyzed data for the next two months ie April and May. Rasul said that less than average rainfall is forecast for the next two months which would result in 1-2 degree increase in temperature. He said temperature would reach 40 degree in Karachi next week, indicating high temperature in coming months. 

He further said the country is already facing water shortage and due to less rainfall, the situation is likely to become worse in the coming days. A senior official of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Brigadier Mukhtar Ahmad, when contacted, said that the Authority has begun preparing to deal with any situation during the upcoming monsoon season. 

“NDMA recently handed over 96 heavy duty pumps to the provincial authorities for the drainage of water in case of flooding, of which 30 pumps were handed over to Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMAs) Punjab, 20 to PDMA Sindh, 12 to PDMA Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 26 to Balochsitan and 8 to Gilgit Baltistan,” he said. The NDMA has also handed over 63 water filtration plants to the provincial authorities for utilization in major flood-prone areas. In addition to it, 43,000 plastic mats have also been handed over to the provincial authorities. 

He said that NDMA in collaboration with PDMAs and District Disaster Management Authorities held a consultative meeting in the federal capital on 20th March 2018 and reviewed the preparations in the event of a natural disaster and common problems facing these organizations were also shared. Ahmad said that over the past 8 years, NDMA and partner organizations have rectified their shortcomings significantly and they are ready to cope with any situation. He said dealing with natural calamities is a complex task wherein protecting lives remain the top priority of the organizations working in the field; next comes relief operation and finally: rehabilitation. 

Officials at the Ministry of Climate Change said that increased variability of river flows due to increase in the variability of monsoon and winter rains may result in uncertainty about future river flows, melting of glaciers. In that scenario, said increased variability may also result in increased demand for irrigation water because of higher evaporation rates at elevated temperatures in the wake of declining per capita availability of water resources, increase in overall water demand, reduction in water storages capacities due to increased sediments (0.2 million acre foot/year), conventional irrigation system with high water losses, low crop water productivity (wheat at 24% and rice at 55% less than the world averages) and influence of groundwater recharge. According to a recent Asian Development Bank (ADB) report climatic changes are expected to have wide-ranging impact on Pakistan, affecting agricultural productivity, water availability, and increased frequency of extreme climatic events. It states that climate change-related natural hazards may increase in frequency and severity in the coming decades. Addressing these risks requires climate change to be mainstreamed into national strategy and policy. 

SHAHROZ SHERWANI,  

Karachi, May 22.