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Government Unveils New App in Response to Flooding in Pakistan

Flooding in Pakistan
After massive flooding in Pakistan due to atypically strong monsoon rains and the Indus River overflowing, in August 2022, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s government unveiled a new mobile app to help those the disaster affected receive aid. The app comes as millions have experienced displacement and the Pakistani government has received millions of dollars in aid.

Prior to the flooding, the country had been seeing economic growth. Additionally, according to the World Bank, Pakistan reduced national poverty from 64.3% to 24.3% from 2001 to 2015. The World Bank credits economic diversification and expansion outside of the agriculture sector for the nation’s development. However, Pakistan has seen setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Business Standard, the pandemic led to a setback in the number of people living below the international poverty line. The publication announced that the poverty rate in Pakistan grew from 4.4% to 5.4% in 2020 and 3.9% in 2015.

The recent flooding posits a new roadblock and challenge for Pakistan’s economic growth and its people’s security. Now, the nation has created a technological solution in hopes to speed up recovery and provide support to its citizens.

The Damage that the Floods in Pakistan Caused

Recent satellite imaging shows a newly-formed lake more than 100 km wide in Pakistan’s Sindh Province after the rising waters subsided. The lake serves as a physical reminder of the devastation left behind by the flooding in Pakistan which has thrown millions of lives into flux and caused widespread poverty.

Per Business Standard, more than 1,000 people have died from the recent flooding in Pakistan, but tens of millions more were impacted by the disaster. Water destroyed and damaged nearly a million homes, leaving millions without access to electricity, clean water or shelter. Per UNICEF, more than 664,000 have had to live in displacement camps scattered throughout the country while they await restitution.

As recently as 2018, agriculture made up more than 18% of Pakistan’s economy, with a majority of it being biased toward livestock, which makes it the largest sector of the Pakistani economy.

Reports noted that the flooding in Pakistan has killed more than 7 million livestock and rendered millions of acres of farmable land unusable, leaving many across the country without their primary source of income.

Foreign Aid and the Flood Reporting Mobile Application

In response to the flooding in Pakistan, there has been an outpouring of aid and support from the international community. The U.N. has sent $2.6 million to Pakistan, and its Central Emergency Response Fund plans to send $3 million more to help with recovery efforts.

Countries within the Islamic world have been particularly supportive of Pakistan’s healing. The United Arab Emirates has planned to send 15 planes with supplies to the country. Turkey and its Red Crescent Society have provided supplies like mosquito nets and tents for families displaced by the disaster. The NGO Qatar charity has given aid to more than 9,000 Afghan refugees and members of the Balochistan province affected by the flooding.

To help in distributing the aid it has received, the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which was among the provinces that the flooding in Pakistan hit the worst according to NASA’s satellite imaging, has released a mobile app for its citizens to use to report flood damage and request aid. According to Provincial Minister for Science and Information Technology Atif Khan, the app is primarily for requesting food and medical services.

The app is simple in its design and relatively straightforward in its use. Upon opening the app, the user sees the provincial government’s logo and then goes to the screen for reporting. From there, users can file reports, view new and historic reports and examine completed reports. According to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority and relevant district administration respond to each claim.

Khan has said that the provincial government takes “urgent steps” in response to each user’s request for aid, though he has not provided a specific timetable for when the steps should be fulfilled or the specifics of what it has been able to provide users.

One issue with the app is that many of those that may need aid the most in Pakistan do not have easy access to regular electricity or WI-FI due to the damage caused by flooding, which makes it difficult to download and run the Flood Reporting Mobile Application. However, for those that can use it, the app connects them to support in a time when disaster has divided the nation.

– Ryan Morton
Photo: Flickr