You are here

Floods worse than 2005 earthquake?

Paul O’Brien, Overseas Director of Concern Worldwide, is calling for greater international help with the flooding in Pakistan, saying that the damage and suffering could exceed that caused by the 2005 earthquake.  

Paul said: “This is a humanitarian emergency potentially greater than the earthquake, not in terms of lives lost but certainly in terms of sheer hardship and suffering, damage to vital public infrastructure, and lasting impact on people’s livelihoods. Some 75,000 Pakistanis lost their lives in the earthquake. The casualty figures here will not approach that scale, but the need for assistance is no less critical. A stronger international response is needed to prevent unnecessary suffering.”

Then and now

The 7.6 magnitude earthquake of 2005, with its epicentre in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, destroyed large areas of that province, as well as affecting Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Gilgit-Baltistan and Punjab. Massive international support yielded over $5 billion for the relief effort.

By comparison, the ongoing floods have already impacted a much larger area, including swaths of KPK, Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan.  

Disastrous impact

Paul said:

We cannot overstate the disastrous potential impacts of this flooding for millions of Pakistanis. Even when flood waters do recede, survivors face the realities of destroyed homes, crop and livestock losses that can’t even be quantified, and isolation from vital resources that would help speed their recovery. 

We do know that in some areas, 50 years worth of labour and investment in infrastructure has been wiped out. 45 major bridges are damaged, along with countless roads and rail links, not to mention communication infrastructure.

Full-scale response

Concern has launched a full-scale emergency response, targeting 10,000 families in Charsadda and Swat districts in KPK and Layya district in Punjab.  

We have been working in these areas since 2001, and were able to immediately distribute plastic sheeting, hygiene kits, blankets and jerry cans.    

Funding needed

Paul concluded: 
Decisive action must be taken to prevent extreme hardship, both in the coming days and over the long term…Pakistan’s poorest and most vulnerable people can’t afford further delays caused by lack of funding. We implore governments and individuals alike to support the response.