The recent floods in Pakistan were described as the “most severe since independence” by the World Bank. It is true that Sindh and most parts of Baluchistan were severely affected by the floods.
As the monsoon rains continued, more than 33 million people were adversely affected by them. Many lost their lives and those of their families’ to this natural disaster. They had to face the lack of safe drinking water, food, and the loss of shelter.
Additionally, a waterborne disease outbreak led to many people being affected by typhoid, dysentery, and a myriad of skin problems.
The floods severely affected Pakistan, which is an agro-based economy and heavily relies on major crops to generate revenue. There was a 50% production loss as the floods destroyed significant crops like rice, dates, cotton, and sugar cane.
It is important to note that the agriculture sector makes up nearly a fourth of Pakistan’s gross domestic product. The loss of crops and agriculture ended up taking a toll on the GDP of Pakistan as it fell drastically, and the estimated economic loss amounted to almost 12.5 billion dollars.
Due to the natural disaster, the loss of crops was borne by farmers, industries, and business owners who faced supply shortages and rising prices.
Flood-Affected People & Migration to Urban Areas
Floods in rural areas of Pakistan pressure urbanized cities like Karachi, where the most affected people moved to after losing their homes and crops. Increased crime rates are one of the many pressing issues due to rural-urban migration. The lack of shelter and food causes many migrants to fall into crime.
However, migration does provide a higher labor influx in the market, positively affecting industries and businesses at times.
Floods and Inflation
With the destruction of food crops, Pakistan has faced food insecurity and shortages. That has led to inflated food prices while most people struggle to put food on the table.
To cover up and compensate for the food shortage, the government has had to import grains instead, leading to a negative balance of payments and trade deficits. It also discourages foreign investment in the country, leading to a loss of employment opportunities for the mass public in the future.
White-collar workers who could have benefited from new job opportunities and the opportunity to explore new markets are unable to do so. These spillover effects of the flood will linger until Pakistan’s economy can gradually rehabilitate and rebuild itself.
The rising prices have immensely affected the purchasing power of white-collar workers. Especially the middle class has to maintain a certain standard of living while sending their kids to good schools for quality education.
The loss of business and the lack of purchasing power have taken a toll on the middle class as they struggle to ensure that they can maintain the standard of living without compromising on their basic needs.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Bailout Program
While commercial loans and the IMF’s bailout program have been able to help the crippling economy, they have come with their setbacks. The IMF’s doors are opened as a last resort to bail out the economy, and its terms may end up causing more harm than good.
To compensate for the destruction the floods have caused, Pakistan has secured a commercial loan and humanitarian aid from the IMF. However, a lot of experts have argued that this will cause the economy to weaken further.
And, it is true, considering that Pakistan has to meet the conditions and requirements raised by the IMF.
The conditions include raising taxes and tariffs on electricity consumption. Moreover, the IMF has set a condition that Pakistan must apply austerity measures to be eligible for monetary funding. That means the government has to reduce spending to ensure better healthcare facilities, infrastructure, and job creation.
These conditions have adversely affected white-collar people. According to surveys, 44 percent households now struggle to pay house rent. According to the statistics, many well-to-do families have been shaken by energy inflation more than food insecurity.
Although these loans are necessary to compensate for the destruction caused by floods, they have severely affected the country’s middle class.
The Textile Industry of Pakistan
Pakistan exports 60% of its production from the textile sector and is facing a shortage of supply after the floods. That has caused some of the small textile units in Pakistan to shut down. Not only has this left thousands unemployed, but the owners, too, face losses as they struggle with high inflation and the shortage of cotton supply.
Governments’ Delayed Development Programs
With the current natural disaster, the government has had to direct its loan funding and other government spending toward emergency relief camps to provide food and shelter to the displaced people.
That means many government programs have been delayed to improve infrastructure, among other things. The lack of investment by the government, coupled with the rising population, keeps worsening the situation.
Floods and natural disasters threaten the development of an economy, especially one like Pakistan’s, which routinely suffers from a negative balance of payments, inflation, currency depreciation, and trade deficits.
The government should take preventive measures like building dams, shifting to eco-friendly production methods, and limiting carbon emissions. Although the effects of climate change are inevitable to some extent, countries can avoid destructive floods like the one this year if measures are kept in place.