GNDR member Syed Harir from JAD Foundation Pakistan shares some thoughts on why the flooding may have occurred and had such a great impact, and why 50% of the area that experienced flash floods in Chitral this time had never been flooded before.
Syed is asking for your help to save lives currently at risk in Chitral by signing a petition.
The possible shift of the warm Monsoon from the southeast to the extreme northwest and its possible coincidence with the existing cold Mediterranean waves in Chitral may have resulted to cloud outburst, thunder and lightning followed by heavy rains.
The steep slopes, the loose rocks, the creeks and the narrow gorges of the mountain landscape on dry and unstable soil accelerated the forces of runoff water, multiplying its magnitude and velocity.
But nature only played its part and disasters are never natural. Human factors played, as always, the key role. Disorganised and uncontrolled mining, tree logging and grazing on the steep mountain slopes have resulted in the massive deforestation and desertification in the watershed area that contributed to the fast water runoff.
In parallel, poor governance and a lack of land use management planning has allowed unplanned habitation and years of encroachment on the narrow downing of water courses by people. On top of this, the low capacity and capability of the existing planning and responding mechanisms fuelled the impact of the disaster.
Meanwhile, government experts are putting most of the blame on Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs). As explained in a previous blog by Syed, there is no evidence supporting this claim. And even if this had been the cause of the disaster, let’s not forget that more than 8,000 people are still living inside tents while the winter temperatures are already several degrees below zero.
The government needs to act now, before the Chitral floods claim new victims months after the flash floods happened. This will not be a “natural” a disaster. And it can be avoided.
You can support Syed Harir and JAD Foundation Pakistan to collect 10,000 signatures by signing up online his “Appeal for climate justice for the homeless mountain community of Chitral".