Unusually heavy rains have wreaked havoc in South Asia this year. In May and June it floods parts of Bangladesh and northeastern India. Hundreds of people were killed and millions were displaced. Floods caused by heavy rains in Pakistan over the past few weeks have become severe. More than 1,200 people have lost their lives in the country so far. At least five lakh people lost their homes. One-third of Pakistan’s area is already under water. In such dire calamities, the country needs to provide such humanitarian aid. The same should be learned for the future.
Flood-prone countries have over decades developed methods to manage damage that others can easily adopt. The methods have three aspects. Infrastructural adjustments, early warning systems and efficient channels for quick financial relief can play an important role. Bangladesh is leading in all three in South Asia.
Bangladesh has been investing for years to protect its low-lying coastal areas from cyclones. Moreover, residents of Bangladesh’s coastal or island regions, i.e. areas that are at high risk, are encouraged to build flood-resistant housing. Financial benefits to be provided. In addition to setting up shelters at high places, facilities have been provided to women. In Bangladesh, people are warned by mobile messages, mosque microphones before the floods start. People are taken to shelters by volunteers. Financial assistance is provided to the victims through mobile without any bureaucratic complications.
Many lives are being saved by such action of Bangladesh government. Between 3 and 5 lakh people died in the 1970 floods in Bangladesh (Bangladesh was then part of Pakistan). But a similar flood in Bangladesh in 2020 killed only 30 people.
Many countries need to increase investment in flood protection. African cities are still struggling in this regard. More than 2,000 people died in the 2010 floods in Pakistan. However, Pakistan has made some progress on early warning. This may have reduced the death toll in the current floods. But it would be better if financial assistance is given through the network to those who have lost their livelihood.
It is clear that Pakistan has failed to fully learn the lessons from Bangladesh. One reason for this is the reluctance to pay enough attention to the threat posed by climate change. Weather is largely responsible for the latest disaster. So more people need to be prepared to face any kind of disaster.
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