According to the Climate Change Risk Index 2021, although Pakistan is ranked eighth among counties most vulnerable to climate crises despite contributing less than one percent to global carbon emissions, yet it continues to suffer from the vagaries of weather beyond any imaginable magnitude. Since the beginning of the monsoon season in mid-June this year, around 1000 people have died across the country and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. No respite from torrential rains and biblical floods is in sight as these two calamities combined continue to play havoc with the lives and properties. Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest and most impoverished province, has been hit the hardest by the surging torrents caused by heavy rains. According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), more than 200 people have died in the province, 58 of them children, and more than 10,000 people were displaced from their homes. Balochistan authorities say the floods have caused damage to more than 40,000 houses, of which 22,000 were destroyed. Nearly 700,000 acres (280,000 hectares) of crops across the province were lost, with the officials estimating the total loss incurred in the floods so far is well over $10m. But the devastation is not limited to Balochistan alone, with almost all of Pakistan facing extraordinary amounts of rain this year. NDMA data suggests that the average rainfall this year was 267mm, compared with the 30-year average of 119mm – an increase of 124 percent. Baluchistan’s 30-year average was only 55mm and this year rose dramatically by 289 percent to 200mm of rainfall. In neighboring Sindh province, the 30-year average was 107mm but touched 375mm this year. The province has reported more than 150 flood-related deaths, including at least 66 children, this year. While displaced people are pleading for relief and sharing videos of their distress on social media, the federal and provincial governments and rescue authorities constantly claim that they are doing their best under the circumstances. Flash floods from heavy monsoon showers have been on the killing spree since June and have inundated crops across the country. Millions are now without shelter and food and the nation is short on relief goods. Flash floods from heavy monsoon showers have been on the killing spree since June and have inundated crops across the country. Millions are now without shelter and food and the nation is short on relief goods. The calamity comes at a troubling time when the government is already coping with one of Asia’s fastest inflation rates and attempting to end a dollar shortage. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is expected to resume a $6 billion loan program while Qatar plans to invest $3 billion in Pakistan’s fragile economy. Flooding has already damaged millions of acres of farmland, including cotton. The country’s central bank has warned that heavy rains could severely impact agricultural output. The regulator already expects economic growth to fall from 6% last year to 3% to 4% in the year starting in July. The death toll is rising, with the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan badly hit. The situation is similarly grim in southern Punjab. Television footage shows people in flood-affected districts wading through water while carrying their belongings on their heads. Officials with the armed forces and National Disaster Management Authority are making all-out efforts to rescue the flood victims. They are seen using boats and trucks to evacuate stranded people to higher ground while railways suspended some of their operations after the flood washed away rail tracks. To this moment, heavy monsoon rainfall and floods have affected around 3 million people in Pakistan since mid-June, destroying at least 95,350 houses and damaging some 224,100 more. Sindh and Balochistan are the two most affected provinces in terms of human and infrastructural impact. Over 504,000 livestock have been killed, nearly all of them in Balochistan Province, while damages to nearly 3,000 km of roads and 129 bridges have impeded access across flood-affected areas. At the request of the Balochistan Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), a multi-sectoral rapid needs assessment has been undertaken in 10 districts of Balochistan to identify priority needs and gaps across sectors. Humanitarian partners are supporting the Government-led response in affected areas, redirecting existing resources to meet the most urgent needs while working to further scale up the response. However, Pakistan continues to be affected by monsoon rainfall, leading to an increased humanitarian impact. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) reported 73 fatalities in just two days (of which 31 in Singh Province), due to floods, landslides, flash floods, and severe weather-related incidents. Since the beginning of the monsoon in Mid-June, more than 3 Million persons have been affected by monsoon rains, of which 184,000 have been displaced to relief camps across Pakistan. Damage has been reported to more than 495,200 houses. In addition, 702,100 livestock has been lost and more than 3,000 km of roads and 130 bridges have been damaged. Compounding the damage caused by the flash floods, thousands of people whose homes were swept away now live in tents, miles away from their inundated villages and towns, after being rescued by soldiers, local disaster workers, and volunteers. The flooding has further exacerbated Pakistan’s economic crisis. The federal government has issued an appeal, urging philanthropists to help flood-affected areas in Pakistan. After inundating much of southwestern Baluchistan and southern Punjab province, flash floods have now started to affect also the southern Sindh province. Likewise, torrential rains and heavy floods have taken a very toll on the beauteous northern areas of Hazara Division of KP, from Swat to Kalam. Similarly, in some parts of Dera Ismail Khan, the situation has worsened after heavy floods. Sensing more danger ahead, authorities closed schools in Sindh and Baluchistan. Heart-wrenching footage of people is viral on social media as people are seen wading through waist-high water, holding their children, and carrying essential items on their heads. Rescuers are using trucks and boats to evacuate people to safer places and food, tents, and other basic supplies are being dispatched to flood-affected areas. In some places, families have struggled to bury their loved ones as local graveyards were also inundated by floodwaters. The bemoaning footage shows mourners carrying coffins through flooded areas to bury the dead away from submerged homes. Aggravating the situation further, floods have damaged as many as 129 bridges across Pakistan, disrupting the supply of fruit and vegetables to markets and causing a hike in prices. Experts say climate change has caused erratic weather conditions in Pakistan, resulting in cloudbursts, and the melting of glaciers that have swelled rivers. They propound that limiting planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions will help limit more drastic weather events around the world, including in this South Asian country. It is high time to devise a pragmatic plan to control the collateral damage. Keeping in view the vast areas involved, surveillance is of immense importance to promptly identify disease outbreaks, food and supply shortages, and the nutritional status of affected populations. Early disease outbreak surveillance is of the essence in this crisis. Use of geographic information systems software such as Google Earth can be particularly effective in these settings. They should be used to target interventions where there is high disease incidence and vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, newborns, disabled and elderly people. Evidence-based strategies known to save lives in such complex emergencies need to be implemented by field operators and policy-makers. A WHO’s handbook, “Communicable Disease Control in Emergencies: a Field Manual” includes measures that can be taken to minimize the risk of infectious diseases in complex emergencies. The Cochrane Library has made available water-safety and water-related disease reviews for the development of appropriate guidelines, free for Pakistani users. Therefore, preventing infectious disease transmission should be the main focus of relief efforts. Adequate hygiene and sanitation are of primary importance in diarrhoeal disease prevention. Flood victims need safe water and information about the benefits of maintaining hygienic practices, such as hand washing with soap. Mass vaccination for children against measles and cholera is particularly important. Public-private partnerships define the modern international health and development landscape. There is no denying the fact that increasing governmental revenue collection is the only effective long-term means to provide the economic support required to rehabilitate the flooded population. Thus, there is a pressing need to broaden the economic and tax base, including shifting tax incidence to the higher socioeconomic classes. The time to act is now! The writer is a civil servant by profession, a writer by choice and a motivational speaker by passion!