Situation Alert: Pakistan Threatened by 2014 Monsoon Onset

Situation Alert: Pakistan Threatened by 2014 Monsoon Onset

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Background:

The yearly monsoon season is a natural phenomenon, which results in some degree of flooding in low-lying areas near Pakistan’s major rivers. In recent years, the country witnessed high levels of precipitation and flash floods. Coupled with the melting of snow and glaciers, the result has been severe flooding while low rainfall and extreme variations in temperatures in certain parts of the country have led to droughts. The unprecendented 2010 floods have been followed by more isolated areas of destruction during the monsoon season. As the current monsoon begins, the uncertainty of exactly where floods will occur and insufficient preparedness places millions of people at risk for loss of life, livelihoods, and property.

Despite efforts made to recover from previous years’ floods and to improve disaster resilience at the local and national levels, many communities are ill-prepared to handle a major or even minor flood. The northern areas will experience spurts of flash floods, for which only a few minutes will be available for people in the path of the water to evacuate. For people living along the riverbanks, saving their belongings and cropland will be impossible. As the monsoon continues and the increased river flow especially in Indus River travels South, Sindh will experience breaches in embankments.

Particulaly vulnerable to secondary losses during this monsoon season are the people living as refugees and IDPs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In Sindh and the southern areas of Punjab, communities already facing food insecurity, unrecovered or partially recovered livelihoods without reduced risk to floods, and the most poor, remote areas are at greatest risk to suffer secondary losses during this season. The aftermath of the floods may include outbreaks of waterborne diseases, food insecurity and malnutrition, inaccessiblity to health services and medices leading to death, prolonged loss of livelihoods and proper shelter, and issues related to protection. Government departments and the humanitarian community in Pakistan are are standby to provide the needed support to flood-affected communities. However, in some areas or if a major flood occurs, and this support is not enough, the international community will be called upon.

Current Monsoon Outlook:

The country’s first monsoon spell  advisory was issued for early July. The advisory stated heavy rain predications in Kashmir, north-eastern Punjab, and Kyber Pakhtunkhwa. Isloated heavy falls were predicated for Gujrat, Gujranwala, Kashmir, and Mandibahaudin. South Punjab was noted to have some thunder with scattered rain predicated in D.G.Khan and Multan. However for Upper Sindh, hot weather was still noted with temperatures crossing 40 degrees. With strong winds in most of Sindh, certain parts of the south including Karachi and Thatta were expected to have cloudy weather with light rain and drizzles.  A well marked low was highlighted for Balochistan with hot and dry weather expected in most of the province.

The Pakistan Metrological Department (PMD) informed that the ‘monsoon through’ is very likey to develop in the coming days which will activate monsoon progression.  The department added that the first spell of regular monsoon rains will be confined over upper parts of the country, producing scattered rain and thundershowers over Islamabad, upper Punjab (Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Sargodha, and Lahore divisions), upper KPK (Malakand, Hazara, Peshawar, and Kohat divisions) and Kashmir.  The department also informed of predications for scanty rains in plain areas during July and erratic rains during the monsoon season with few extreme events in the monsoon prone areas of the country (upper parts of KPK, Punjab, and Kashmir).  Additionally, the PMD confirmed of hot and dry weather with humid conditions in most parts of the country before the onset of the monsoon.

The outlook for the monsoon season by the PMD stated that rainfall will increase gradually during August in northern parts of the country. During August and September, monsoon will remain by and large normal. However, the north eastern parts of the country are expected to receive slightly above normal precipitation during the period.

CWS-P/A Response:

CWS-P/A has a contingency plan in place and due to the organization’s current or past presence in certain districts will be able to mobilize its emergency response within two to seven days. The priority areas of the organization’s response include Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, KPK, and Sindh. CWS-P/A’s response strategy includes emergency health through a self-implementation approach while for food, non-food items, WASH and shelter, local partners may be engaged based on needs.

Currently, CWS-P/A is closely monitoring the situation.

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