Pakistan: Drowning in the Effects of Climate Change


Lisa Wang, News Editor

Since mid-June, Pakistan has been flooding due to the extreme rainfall of the Monsoon rains this year. Over the summer, more than 33 million lives have been disrupted. The intense flooding washed away over one million homes, drowned two million acres of farmland, led to a loss of over 794,000 heads of livestock, destroyed 5,000 kilometers of roads, and damaged over 800 medical facilities, 180 of which are now completely unusable. As of September 2022, a third of Pakistan is underwater. The floods have caused over $30 billion of damage in Pakistan, killed over 1,500 Pakistanis people, 458 of which were children, and internally displaced over a million people. 

The country was already in the midst of political and economical turmoil before the floods. These floods have further pushed the country into an already deep hole. Pakistanis were already going hungry before the floods, but now millions more are facing food shortages and skyrocketing prices of their basic necessities. When South Asians and Pakistanis first found out, their reactions were filled with shock and displeasure.

Junior Rufaida Ruhman had heard predictions about South Asia flooding for years but did not think it would ever happen. “ I would hear [rumors] about it [South Asia flooding]. So when it actually happened, it was kinda shocking […] You know when you hear about something, but you don’t actually process it until it actually happens? That’s kinda what it was like. Even though it didn’t affect Bangladesh as much, Pakistanis people are close to our home [Bangladesh], so I was kinda taken aback. Something like that [the floods], I didn’t expect it to happen,” Ruhman stated solemnly. 

Sophomore Manahil Sabeeh had a similar reaction, but as a Pakistani, she was more deeply impacted by the news.

 “I was just shocked, to be honest. [I was] like, ‘how could this be happening, ‘ why isn’t there more coverage on it’, [and] ‘what’s going on’. Then, I was just angry. It was just [because of] the lack of awareness, the lack of urban planning, the lack of government, and then just [realizing that] we let this happen,” Sabeeh explained, “I’m from Pakistan. I was born in Pakistan, and I have family who don’t live directly in the flood sites, but they do live nearby. It’s just devastating to see all those people who are in danger and are dying because of the Monsoon [rains], climate change, and poor urban planning. It’s also just worrying- for me- because those family members, they may not be in exact danger, but there is a risk factor for them.”

In late August 2022, the UN officially linked the floods to climate change, which is linked to greenhouse gases like Carbon Dioxide, Methane, and Nitroxide. While almost all countries emit greenhouse gases, the more economically developed countries emit the bulk of the global emission. Pakistan emits less than 1% of the global emissions, while the US emits over 21.5% of the global emissions. Despite the large emission gap, Pakistan is more heavily affected by global warming.  All South Asian countries are in a climate crisis hotspot, making the citizens 15 times more likely to be impacted and die by climate change-related crises. 

“Countries like the US are contributing so much to global emissions. Because we [the US] aren’t seeing [or dealing with] the effects, we’re not [taking action] because it is not affecting us directly,” Ruhman proclaimed, noting that if the floods occurred in the US, the end result would be much different. Due to the lack of attention to climate change, there have been no notable climate policies that could limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in the US. 

“It has to be South Asian Countries that are going to have to take more action, even though they are not the ones contributing [to global warming], which is really unfair,” Ruhman added. 

Sabeeh was also displeased to know that the floods would not be the last to occur because of the lack of change and the greed of other countries. “To put it in simple terms, it’s just messed up. It’s scary that we’re all living in this bubble where we don’t really know what’s happening outside, and it’s astonishing and disgusting that the US and certain countries exploit those third rural countries and other people for their own benefits and their own greed,” Sabeeh stated. 

Because of climate change, the Monsoon rains have been dubbed “ Monsoon on Steroids” by many officials. The amount of rainfall during the Monsoon season has been 500% more than it has been in previous years. Many Pakistanis know that Monsoon rains are important, however, there is a line before it becomes too much. 

“Obviously, in any environment, you want to have rain, but it is, I would agree, Monsoon of Steroids, because too much rain is bad.  It adds to the melting glaciers and just poor urban planning in Pakistan. The management [and] the government, it does not go well for the people,” Sabeeh explained, giving insight into why the rains were so damaging this year. 

The Sindh district was one of the many to be heavily affected by the floods. The difference between the Sindh district and the others impacted is that it produces 50% of the country’s food. The floods have drowned the agricultural land and destroyed 90% of the already growing crops. There has also been a 100% increase in waterborne diseases in the Sindh region, a similar increase that is seen all over Pakistan. The stagnant water from the floods has increased the ability for waterborne diseases to cultivate and spread. A rise in cases of Malaria and Diarrheal diseases, skin infections, and respiratory tract infections, has occurred. At least 1,200 of the 1,500 deaths occurred because of waterborne diseases, causing more strain on the remaining health facilities. Millions have been left without clean water, making monitoring diseases a key priority. 

“My mom was a doctor in Pakistan, and so was my dad. So, I know a little bit about the healthcare system there, and it really favors the rich and well-off.  […] I just don’t think they [the health care facilities] have the funding and the whole system in general is messed up- [it’s] only meant to help the people at the top and not the bottom. A short-term goal would just be like adding funding and helping rebuild stuff, and the long-term goal would be reconstructing the health system [in Pakistan]. ” Sabeeh said, outlining what could be done to help those who are sick now and to prevent the health crisis from reoccurring. 

Help has been flooding into Pakistan since the bulk of the floods occurred. The UN has launched a $160 million appeal that aims to reach 5.2 million of the most vulnerable people, the WHO released $10 million to Pakistan to help treat the injured, prevent infectious diseases, and send medical equipment to facilities. China has pledged $14.5 million in aid to Pakistan and the UK government also announced a contribution of $1.73 million to help Pakistan with damage relief. The US has sent 30 million dollars of humanitarian aid to Pakistan, and USAID announced that it would send an additional $30 million in humanitarian assistance to Pakistan. The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund has already approved $3 million for urgent health care, food security, and water sanitation just a few weeks prior. 

“We should be giving money, as well as actually taking action against [the problem] because even if we’re giving money, that’s not stopping future floods or whatever might happen. That’s what should be done, solving future problems, “ Rahman stated.

For students that want to help, there are many respectable and honorable organizations to donate to. UNICEF is seeking donations at to help supply healthcare, water, and hygiene kits to families affected. The Humanity and Inclusion organization is in Pakistan working to distribute food and basic household necessities, the donations can be accepted here. The International Medical Corporation has been handing out medical supplies to patients in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Along with that, they are also giving out water purification tablets to limit the spread of water-borne diseases. Students can help by clicking this link to donate. The Alkhidmat Foundation Pakistan is a non-profit that has a flood emergency relief appeal for people in need. They are accepting oversea donations from the USA here

If students do not have the means to donate, there are many other ways to help. Spreading word of Pakistan and the horrible flooding is one of the simplest ways for students to assist. 

“We should be more aware of things. A lot of people aren’t even aware of things like this [extreme natural disasters], and it’s just really upsetting. Some people don’t even know what Pakistan is.  Just spread more awareness. Although students can’t do as much, telling other people could [get the attention of] the people that could do more [to solve the problem],” Ruhman pleaded, asking for State High students to listen, tell others, and get the attention of those with more power. 

Sabeeh was originally angry when she first heard the news about Pakistan because there was not enough media coverage. She echoed Ruhman, asking students to spread awareness. 

“Raising awareness [is a great way to help]. Funding raising [is also good]. Even just a little bit can help, especially if it comes out of goodwill. We’re just students, and we’re just trying to raise and help out. Just raise awareness and petition, call [the] local government- anything that you can do to help [Pakistan],” said Sabeeh

In the end, what is happening in Pakistan is not limited to Pakistan. It is a human-induced crisis that will occur repeatedly- except next time, it might not be Pakistan. Today, it is Pakistan that is suffering, tomorrow it could be California or New York. There is no guarantee that every human is safe from their own destruction until emission policies change.