After record floods, now Pakistan has to worry about economy


Islamabad, Pakistan – Tanveer Aziz Kingrani was planning to spend August preparing for his term examinations at the University of Sindh. Instead, the 23-year-old aspiring physicist has been camping out in a tent with 18 family members for the past week after his village was completely submerged in floods.

A resident of Haji Manik Khan village, 20km (12 miles) from Dadu city in Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh, Kingrani and his family are among the 33 million people who have been forced to leave their houses due to the unprecedented rains and floods that hit the region last month.

But it was not just the homelessness that was on Kingrani’s mind.

“Our crops are completely destroyed. We have nothing left for ourselves, or for the market. We have suffered a loss of at least 1.8 million Pakistani rupees [$8,000],” he tells Al Jazeera over the phone.

On the 12 hectares (30 acres) of farmland that Kingrani’s father owns, he sows rice, cotton, and wheat during the winter. But the rains have not only destroyed his standing crops of rice and cotton, the Kingranis are now worried about their wheat crop as well.

“There’s so much water that there is no chance of it receding or draining before the next three months, and that means we will miss out on the timeframe to sow the wheat crop,” says Aziz Kingrani, Tanveer’s father.

“I have no other source of income besides my land and my pension,” says Aziz, a retired professor. “I have no idea how I will feed 18 people with my meagre pension. I may just have to recall my son from his college to help me out.”

Some 800km (500 miles) northwest of Kingrani’s village, similar tales are unfolding in Balochistan, Pakistan’s most impoverished province that saw 500 percent more precipitation than the annual average in the month of August.

Abdul Bashir Jatoi, a farmer in Dera Allah Yar city, says his entire village, including 10 hectares (25 acres) of farmland, has been submerged. As have the roughly 800 hectares (2,000 acres) of arable land in the adjoining four to five villages.

“I had invested close to 500,000 [Pakistani] rupees [$2,240] for my rice crop, hoping to earn a profit of close to 1,500,000 [Pakistani] rupees [$6,720] but it was not to be. Now I am just waiting for God to send some help,” the 45-year-old farmer told Al Jazeera.

This has been the story of just about every household affected by what is inarguably Pakistan’s worst ever floods, as torrential monsoon rains have caused havoc in the South Asian nation of more than 220 million people.

More than 1,300 people have so far died, with 81 out of 160 districts in the country directly affected by the floods, leaving at least 33 million people homeless, figures which are expected to rise in the coming days.

But beyond the human losses, the country’s economic managers have the most challenging task ahead as floods ravaged the country’s road and communication network, damaged an incalculable number of houses, and destroyed millions of hectares of crops.