Pakistan’s abnormal monsoon rains and flash floods continue to wreak havoc in several parts of the country, causing irreparable damage to life and livestock. The casualties (dead, displaced, or injured) of tens of thousands of livestock animals have also wiped away years of livelihoods and robbed people of economic means for the future.
According to the National Disaster Management Authority’s (NDMA) ‘Monsoon 2022 Daily Situation Report’ issued yesterday, the damages of infrastructure and private properties across Pakistan detailed 8,588 livestock casualties as of 25 August. This includes 8,681 in Sindh, 247 in Punjab, 152 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and two in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
The overall casualty toll of livestock from 14 June to 25 August is 802,583, comprising 500,000 deaths in Balochistan, 202,593 in Punjab, 98,260 in Sindh, 952 in KP, and 772 in AJK.
At least half of Pakistan’s population reportedly still relies on agriculture for a living, which involves either farming or selling livestock (ruminants and camels). Livestock is a main livelihood source and an important means of sustenance, including the rearing, selling, and purchasing of sacrificial animals for Eid-ul-Azha, while animal products are also used for daily food consumption.
As per the Pakistan Economic Survey 2021-22, livestock makes up 14.04 percent of the GDP. For the poor in rural areas affected by this year’s rains and floods, such unprecedented and high livestock casualty rates are analogous to a stock market crash that obliterates years of savings.
The monsoon conditions also result in animal diseases, and the stress and unhygienic conditions created by the flood raise such tendencies.
Earlier this month, the Pakistan Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) issued a report detailing that 3,036 animals had perished in the monsoon rains and ensuing floods, and 501 animals were rescued from the flooded areas in relief operations. Six relief camps were set up for affectees’ animals, housing 169 animals; and 54,000 of their animals were also vaccinated against diseases.
However, the Pakistan Food Security and Agriculture Working Group (FSAWG) estimated last week that more than 1,000 animal shelters have been demolished.
Pakistan is currently eighth on the Global Climate Risk Index – a list of the countries that are most vulnerable to extreme weather caused by climate change, compiled by the environmental NGO Germanwatch. The FSAWG also reported that over a million acres of crops have been affected by the relentless rains, increasing the risk of food insecurity. Ironically, the deadly season has swathed Pakistan, whose farmers are dependent on the monsoon rains, in the middle of the Kharif season, resulting in inundated fields, decimated crops, and destroyed years’ worth of stored harvests.
The ongoing situation bodes badly for the people who have lost their loved ones, property and possessions, sustenance, and sources of income in the deluge, prompting the Minister for Climate Change, Sherry Rehman, to call the floods “the worst humanitarian disaster of this decade.”