Thursday August 3, 2023

One year since Pakistan’s worst floods in living memory, a new report published by Islamic Relief lays bare the devastating long-term impact of the floods and argues that rich nations must do much more to compensate the people who are most affected by climate change.

The report finds that one year later, the floods – which affected 33 million people and cost $30 billion in infrastructure damage and economic losses – continue to destroy lives. An Islamic Relief assessment in flood-affected areas found 40% of young children now suffering stunted growth as families struggle to access food and healthcare, and 80% of mothers report sickness among children – with outbreaks of diarrhoea, malaria and dengue fever increasing.

Millions of people’s livelihoods are destroyed, with agricultural output declining significantly this year due to the loss of cotton, date, sugarcane and rice crops. Growing numbers of rural people are forced to migrate to towns and cities in search of work. The country’s economy is in tatters with external debt soaring to $125 billion, inflation reaching a record 38% and a further 6 million people pushed into poverty.

Islamic Relief’s report – based on extensive research with affected communities – calls for a package of compensation for Pakistan and other countries affected by increasingly frequent and severe climate-related disasters, including debt relief and increased climate financing.

It calls on rich and high-polluting countries to accelerate action for COP28 in November, particularly to operationalise the new global Loss and Damage Fund – which was agreed at COP27 but still lacks details and has not yet made any disbursements – and to finally fulfil promises to provide $100 billion annually to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to the impacts of climate change. This is less than a quarter of the amount fossil fuel companies receive in government subsidies every year.

Pakistan should be a priority for increased climate financing. It is one of the countries most vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change, yet despite being the world’s sixth most populous country it is responsible for just 0.88% of global emissions – less than one eighth of the United States’ per capita emissions.


Speaking at the launch of the report in Islamabad, Waseem Ahmad, the CEO of Islamic Relief Worldwide, said:

No amount of financial aid can compensate those who have lost loved ones and seen their homes and everything they own destroyed. But we need to see climate justice, where the biggest polluters pay for the damage and destruction caused by climate change.

“As climate-related catastrophes increase, it is the poorest and most vulnerable people who bear the brunt of the suffering. They are the ones most likely to live in fragile homes and least likely to have savings to fall back on, or assets to sell, or any kind of ‘Plan B’ when floods hit and crops and livestock are wiped out.

“The emergency response to the floods in Pakistan saved many lives, but as the flood waters have receded international commitments have also dried up. Billions of dollars in donor pledges have yet to materialise and the international community has failed to deliver its promises to substantially curb global emissions, help the worst affected communities adapt, and deliver climate financing for countries like Pakistan. It’s time world leaders translate rhetoric to reality.”


The report – “Towards a resilient Pakistan: Moving from rhetoric to reality” – also makes a series of detailed recommendations to international financial institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank, and to the Government of Pakistan. It calls for more investment in smart climate solutions, green innovation and resilient livelihoods programmes; and greater focus on listening to women, youth and indigenous communities and addressing their specific needs in policy making and programme design.

Women and girls were particularly affected the 2022 floods, with pregnant women still struggling to access maternal health services and girls most likely to be underweight. Many women displaced by the flooding still do not have safe private spaces to breastfeed, leading to poorer health for babies.

Islamic Relief’s research found that local communities, particularly vulnerable groups, feel increasingly excluded from climate action and responses, with only 22% of those surveyed believing they can play a role to reduce or reverse the impacts of climate change.

The report finds that much existing climate finance is directed to large-scale infrastructure projects, which can be to the detriment of smaller-scale projects working with local communities. Global funding for Disaster Risk Reduction, helping communities prepare for climate-related emergencies, should be increasing but actually decreased during 2022.

The report draws on learning from Islamic Relief’s own response to the floods, which has helped 1.5 million people. The charity delivered lifesaving aid including food, water, sanitation and cash vouchers, and continues to support communities to rebuild homes and infrastructure and strengthen resilience for future disasters. It works with local communities to implement innovative climate-adaptation projects such as drought-resistant crops, drip-irrigation technology and reforestation initiatives.



The 2022 Pakistan floods affected 33 million people and submerged a third of Pakistan underwater. The disaster killed over 1,700 people, displaced 7.9 million people from their homes and cost $30 billion (USD) in infrastructure damage and economic losses.

Islamic Relief’s report, “Towards a Resilient Pakistan: Moving from Rhetoric to Reality” is being launched at a high-profile event in Islamabad attended by representatives from the UN, international donors, diplomats, academics, media, and the Pakistan government.

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