Pakistan has been hit by the worst floods it has seen in a long time. However, the last time was only 12 years ago – an event that under normal circumstances only occurs around every 100 years. These floods have caused enormous damage. Almost 750,000 people no longer have access to safe and adequate housing. In addition, large areas of agricultural land have been flooded, destroying crops and threatening food supplies. Around a third of the country is under water. This triggered a crisis of unimaginable proportions, because the infrastructure was also affected accordingly, resulting in significant obstacles to rescue and relief measures.
Most affected are – one might say, as usual – people affected by poverty, because they often live in inadequate and substandard housing on riverbanks, in low-lying areas and zones that are difficult to reach due to a lack of infrastructure.
In addition, women are particularly affected. There are around 650,000 pregnant women in flooded areas. For many, birth is imminent. But it is very difficult for them to find adequate care, as it is in the province of Sindh more than 1,000 healthcare facilities were partially or completely damaged. In addition, the risk of gender-based violence against women and children increases with the collapse of public order and the failure of social protection mechanisms.
The floods are a clear sign of the devastating effects of the climate crisis. Pakistan contributes only 0.4% to global emissions. The real responsibility lies with the richest countries in the world. Although these have the highest pollutant emissions, the consequences of climate change hit the poorest countries hardest. Measured in monetary terms, the floods and the resulting consequences cost ten billion US dollars.
That’s why people are asking to donate everywhere, without seeing that it couldn’t be more embarrassing. In the rich countries that are responsible for these catastrophes, a few euros or dollars are said to be generously given to help the oh-so-poor countries. Thinking that considers itself oh so generous because it supports the poor little people could not be more imperialistic and paternalistic. The people in Pakistan (and not only in Pakistan, because climate change is also bringing other poor countries to the brink of tolerability) have a right to the damage we have caused being paid for by us. Not as a donation, but as money to which they are entitled.
Even more perfidious is the domestic textile industry, which in one of its magazines manages to say that it is a humanitarian catastrophe, but only as a side note, because the main focus is on the fear that cotton prices could rise. Such perfidy cannot be imagined. On the one hand, agriculture in Pakistan (and not only there) is being ruined by the cotton monocultures due to our excessive need for textiles, and on the other hand, precisely this alleged need for climate change to satisfy our needs is further fueled, ultimately resulting in even more tons of textiles that are no longer used land in the Chilean desert. The worst part, however, is that this irresponsibility is not perceived in the slightest. Therefore, there does not appear to be any need for action. Apart from whining about the possible price increases – and because we have such a good heart, we can always donate to the poor people.