Pakistan is a country susceptible to a number of natural hazards. Based on events recorded by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) from February 1991 to April 2013, Pakistan experienced 44 distinct disasters – an average of 1-2 natural disasters a year. These included avalanches (3), cold waves (1), cyclones (2), droughts (2), earthquakes (11), floods (22), heat waves (1), rain/snowfall (1), and a storm (1). In addition to these natural disasters, counter-insurgency operations launched in the Federally Administered Trial Areas (FATA) in 2005 and Swat in 2009 have also resulted in an ongoing humanitarian response to meet the needs of internally displaced people (IDPs). Pakistan also is also hosting an estimated 1.7 million refugees who fled conflict in Afghanistan.
Prior to 2005, humanitarian responses were limited in scope and sized compared to post-2005 and the government usually responded to them alone, or with the assistance of the few national and international NGOs, donors and UN Agencies that were operating in Pakistan at the time. After the 2005, earthquake in Kashmir increased numbers of INGOs have been working on natural and man-made disaster responses in Pakistan.
Humanitarian responses to natural hazards are treated as different from man-made conflict or military action and the government requests a different response from the international humanitarian community in each. The government of Pakistan in cooperation with the international and national humanitarian community has responded to a number of emergencies over the past decade including:
2005 Earthquake: At 8:52am on 08 October 2005, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck near the city of Muzzafarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. More than 100,000 are estimated to have been killed, 138,000 seriously injured and 3.5 million displaced due to the destruction of buildings. Infrastructure, in the mountainous region was destroyed, making it difficult to even reach affected people. The international and national humanitarian community responded together with the army and government racing to beat the onset of winter which created bad weather, heavy snowfalls, landslides and blocked road. For more information please click here.
2008 Floods: In August 2008, Pakistan suffered overlapping crisis of heavy monsoon flooding, flash flooding and displacement of people due to conflict in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Peshawar District in Khyber Paktunkhwa (then Northwest Frontier Province) and Rajanpur District in Punjab were most severely affected. The government and the international and national humanitarian community provided assistance in these areas.
2009 Swat Displacement: In May 2009, between one and three million people fled fighting between the government and militant groups in the Swat Valley of Khyber Paktunkwa. Most of the displaced did not go into camps but moved into urban and semi-urban areas which made ensuring that they received services and assistance difficult.
2010 Floods: In July and August 2010, Pakistan experienced the most heavy monsoon rainfall in the previous 50 years. Approximately, one-fifth of Pakistan’s total land area was to be submerged in all four of the country’s provinces. The government estimated that 20 million people were affected with a death toll of nearly 2,000 people and the destruction of property, livelihood, and infrastructure eventually estimated to be $43 billion USD. Again the international and national humanitarian community responded with the army and government providing drinking water, food and shelter in the short-term and livelihood recovery and reconstruction in the long-term. To read more click here.
2012 Floods – In August 2012, heavy to intense monsoon rains caused widespread loss of life, livelihoods and infrastructure across southern Punjab, northern Sindh and northeastern Balochistan. As of 8 Oct, 5 million people, 14,270 villages and 1.1 million acres of crops were affected by flooding. Almost 270,000 people were housed in 478 relief camps. More than 465,000 houses were damaged.
2013 Balochistan Earthquake – In September 2013, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Balochistan province in southwest Pakistan, causing at least 348 deaths and affecting over 300,000 people. Awaran and Kech districts were hit the hardest, with 21,000 houses reportedly damaged and the communication system disrupted in the remote and sparsely populated area. Humanitarian partners supported Government authorities to provide assistance.
2014 Tharparkar Drought – In March 2014, 99 children and 67 adults (43 men and 24 women) reportedly died in Tharparkar since the beginning of 2014 due to a combination of chronic malnutrition, a lack of access to effective health facilities, lower than average rainfall in Chachro, Diplo, Khinser, Islamkot, Mithi tehsils (sub-districts), and an outbreak of sheep pox which killed thousands of small animals.
2014 North Waziristan Displacement – In June 2014, a military operation began in North Waziristan against militant groups. This resulted in a large number of civilians displaced who sought refuge in the neighbouring districts of Khyber Paktunkhwa (KPK) / FATA. The international humanitarian community worked in cooperation, coordination, and partnership with Government to provide humanitarian assistance.
2014 Floods – In September 2014, heavy monsoon rains and floods across Pakistan resulted in rivers Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, and Jhelum to overflow and brought flash floods, which caused deaths, homes to collapse in the Punjab, Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) regions. The humanitarian community worked with the government to provide emergency shelter, food distribution, medicines, drinking water, hygiene kits and other non-food items.
Want to know more about what NGOs in Pakistan do in a response? Read more about NGOs in Pakistan.