The flash floods hitting the northwestern Pakistan in July-August 2010 have been termed the country’s worst ever humanitarian disaster. An estimated 14 million people in Pakistan have been affected by the massive floods caused by torrential monsoon rains that lashed the entire country in end July.
People in the affected areas have been left homeless as the catastrophic floods washed away their homes, villages and livelihoods. Many have been without proper food, shelter and medical aid for almost two weeks. Survivors in the worst affected areas have camped out under open skies on the highways and other high, dry grounds. Access to food and clean drinking water is their biggest worry as thousands of families fled the rampant water with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
In the North West region, the entire Swat valley remained cut off from the rest of the country as roads, bridges and railway tracks were washed away. Even helicopters were unable to reach many of the worst-hit areas because of the poor weather. Aid workers are delivering aid by foot and on donkeys. . Floodwater is still surging south along the Indus River, forcing more and more people from their homes.
According to meteorologists, there is a shift in the world’s weather patterns and weather-related disasters are going to increase in frequency. This year, the intensity of monsoon rains have brought devastation to Pakistan on a scale that is difficult to comprehend and even harder to cope with. UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said that the disaster is "one of the most challenging that any country has faced in recent years." The United Nations has also warned that children are among the most vulnerable victims, with diarrhea the biggest health threat.
Ripe crops and precious cattle have been washed away as more than 17 million acres of agricultural land became submerged in water. In an agricultural country where people rely mainly on crops and cattle for their livelihood, these losses translate into utter misery and financial ruin. Some villagers were even seen to risk their lives and limbs to save a goat or a buffalo from the raging waters.
Relief effortsare underway as the Pakistan government with the help of the army, international community and donors, non government organizations, philanthropists, Pakistani students and other charitable organizations struggle to cope with the magnitude of the disaster. Pakistan Independence Day celebrations for 14th August were canceled as the entire country attempts to bring relief and reconstruction efforts to the flood-hit areas.