The destruction wreaked by floods in Pakistan between 2010 and 2012 was indicative of governance and political problems in the country, according to Naseer Memon .
“It is my considered view that these floods were a governance disaster,” said Naseer Memon, a writer and CE Strengthening Participatory Organization. “More than a natural or administrative issue, they are a political issue and must be viewed through the political lens.”
He was speaking at the launching ceremony of his new book “Malevolent Floods of Pakistan,” in which he has discusses the context and impact of recent floods and makes suggestions for flood management. The ceremony was organised by the Sindh Graduates Association in Islamabad.
He said that the floods used to be benevolent for rural communities once. But they have turned malevolent because of several factors including encroachments in floodplains, deforestation, usurping of natural waterways and lack of land planning, for which the political and ruling elites were responsible.
“The root causes are needed to be addressed, otherwise, the threat of climate change will emerge as the biggest danger to Pakistan in the future,” Memon said.
The book talks about floods from different perspectives including climate change, effect on households, role of philanthropy, health impact, gender and food security.
Panellists who spoke about the book said despite being just around 60 pages, the book was a contribution to reference literature on recent floods and gives a comprehensive representation of what went wrong during the floods from 2010-12.
Senior climate change expert Qamaruz Zaman Chaudhry said that Pakistan has exemplary early flood warning systems but if governance failures and lack of appropriate actions based on the warnings render the systems useless.
Activist Tahira Abdullah said that the book was easy-to-read and full of data and information. Even though Abdullah disagreed with mentioning women issues in a separate chapter, she said the book did not ignore the way women and girls were affected by natural disasters.
She said those government officials, politicians and feudal lords who were complicit in blowing up levies to divert flood water away from their lands, causing the water to wreak havoc on other areas, should be named and shamed and punished.
Aimal Khattak said that the best thing about the book was that it steps away from traditional isolated approaches of discussing a particular natural disaster and takes a broader view of the problems surrounding disaster risk reduction and management.
Audience members also brought attention to issues such as food insecurity, flash floods and the state institution’s failure to provide relief to people. They also called for a need to promote pro-people approach in policymaking and policy implementation.