Pakistan’s Flood Crisis Is Not Over. Here's What To Know—And How To Help

As the country faces ongoing economic and health issues from the fallout of a crisis it did not create, what do carbon-emitting countries–like Canada–owe Pakistan?
By Sabah Ahmed
People use a canoe to navigate floodwaters from monsoon rains in the Dadu district of Sindh Province, of Pakistan, Nearly eight million Pakistanis have been displaced, with two million homes washed away and 33 million people overall impacted by the floods. (Photo: AP/Fareed Khan)

This past summer, torrential rainfalls drowned one-third of Pakistan. At the time of writing, the seasonal monsoon—which brought 190 percent more rain than typical for the country—has killed over 1,500 people, including 550 children.

Water-borne diseases remain a serious risk as flood water stagnates in the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan where the water has not yet receded—and it likely won’t recede for another six months, according to relief agencies.

Monsoon rains have brought floods to Pakistan in the past, too. The most recent in 2010 killed at least 1,200, but the current floods are the first time that this level of catastrophic destruction has occurred. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), nearly eight million Pakistanis have been displaced, with two million homes washed away and 33 million people overall impacted by the floods.

Pakistan’s floods—and the ongoing social, economic and health issues that have rippled from it—should never have been its problem. Climate change caused the increase in monsoon rains this year. And Pakistan, a country that produces less than one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and is already vulnerable to flooding, is feeling the acute effects of a problem it did not cause.

The U.S is the second highest global producer of carbon emissions and the first highest among G7 nations. Canada, meanwhile, produces 1.5 percent of global greenhouse emissions. In 2019, we ranked as the 10th highest producer despite a decline of overall carbon emissions.

What makes the floods in Pakistan so particularly devastating? And what do emission-producing countries, like Canada, owe Pakistan?

Pakistan was already struggling. Then the floods struck.


“This catastrophe came at the end of the pandemic, where the community was already struggling, inflation was at an all-time high, people were jobless for a long time, and [the] only added further problems,” says Mahmood Qasim, CEO of International Development and Relief Foundation, a registered Canadian non-profit organization. “[Disaster] was not front and centre for the country.”

Once the floods hit, the most affected areas were Sindh and Balochistan, where a prominent livestock farming community meant durable infrastructure was scarce. Because of this, homes were easily destroyed and swept away.

“If you look at the culture in these communities [in], it's very nomadic. People move around, and [most] don't like to have a permanent residence,” says Qasim.

The economic consequences are dire

Pakistan typically faces an average of USD $1 billion flood losses each year. This year, however, the loss was USD $30 billion.

The Pakistani government estimates crops and commodities worth the equivalent of $2.8 billion in Canadian dollars have been destroyed. More than 13 thousand kilometres of roads and 410 bridges have washed away. Between eight to nine million people will be pushed below the poverty line.


“Food security in the region is going to be a major crisis,” says Qasim. “With over 200 million people living in the country, relying mostly on Punjab’s and Sindh’s farming industry, there will be further inflation.”

A health crisis is imminent

In flood affected areas, there is little to no sanitation. The stagnant floodwater has brought swarms of mosquitoes causing diarrhea, typhoid, malaria, dengue fever and various skin infections. Nearly 10 percent of healthcare facilities have been destroyed or damaged, and according to the WHO, over eight million people are in urgent need of care.

Water supply systems have been completely broken and several schools have washed away. Children are malnourished. Several hundred thousand pregnant women need immediate medical assistance.

Is aid the solution?

As the effects of climate change take hold across the developing countries, the notion of climate justice, or climate reparation, is popping up more. Pakistan’s climate change minister, Sherry Rehman, has demanded polluting fossil fuel companies in the developed world pay for the damage in Pakistan.

In September, the U.S promised $50 million in aid to Pakistan. Canada has announced $33 million. But Pakistan has appealed for $816 million USD to cater the urgent needs of 9.5 million people.


For Qasim, aid is not a long-term solution: “Countries have to do a better job, be it in the reparation funds or providing aid that is more long-term and sustainable, rather than waiting for emergencies to happen and then providing relief after that.”

The idea of climate reparations is about more than emergency aid. It’s a commitment by rich countries to repay the losses caused by climate change and their history of exploiting poor countries. It’s not a new idea either: in 2009, developed countries committed to pay $100 billion USD a year to developing countries for climate reparations. The payment was supposed to be complete by 2020. That target was missed and has been pushed to 2023.

Climate reparations were front and center of COP27’s discussions this year, under the framework of a loss and damage fund to be paid by rich nations. The summit concluded with a landmark agreement to establish a fund, but the logistical details of who will contribute and who will receive the funds have yet to be worked out.

One-time aid from individuals is not a long-term solution to the crisis in Pakistan, but it still helps. Want to donate? Here are four organizations to consider.

  • Islamic Relief Canada is a Canadian charity that operates on Islamic values and offers both emergency relief and long-term sustainable programs.
  • The IDRF is a Canadian not-for-profit that responds to disasters with a focus on long-term sustainable development.
  • On-the-ground Pakistani organizations like the Al Khidmat Foundation and the Edhi Foundation have set up immediate flood appeals for tents, dry rations, medical aid, learning centres and mosquito nets.


Subscribe to our newsletters for our very best stories, recipes, style and shopping tips, horoscopes and special offers.

By signing up, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.