Pakistan has got unique geo-climatic conditions and topography descending from the worlds 2 nd highest

peak in the North more than 8000 meters high to the sea level in the South which is a blessing in

disguise for the gravity irrigation system and hydel power generation.

But on the other end it makes the damage high when there are floods due to heavy seasonal rains or melting of glaciers and snow on the

hills. The central plains of Punjab, Indus river basin and the farm area in KP and Sindh is the most hard

hit area where majority of food grains are grown to fulfill the food requirements of the country. The

catchment area of River Indus in the North, its tributaries from the West and the shoulders of the

Western mountain series like Koh-e- Safaid and Waziristan Hills, Sulaiman and Kirthar Mountains,

Baluchistan Plateau, and the adjacent piedmont slopes and soils used for agriculture are therefore

subjected to agricultural practices disturbing the upper surface soil. All of these activities are done

randomly without any planning or keeping the objective of resource conservation or flood mitigation in

mind. The extra run off water therefore, flows on the slopes and through the soil surface causing splash,

rill and gully erosion, where the flowing water carries the soil load with itself causing floods. The soil

degradation in the upper catchment areas and deforestation also makes the problem more severe. The

present article is therefore about applying conservation practices in these areas to minimize the quantity

of runoff water causing floods. Addition of few other techniques and minor changes in cropping pattern

will make the whole agricultural system climate smart. On the other hand effective collaboration and

linkage among various organizations is also recommended to mitigate the floods by coordinated efforts.


In the ancient ages catastrophes like floods, draughts, landslides, melting of glaciers, earthquakes and

famines were considered the disasters brought only by nature. Thanks to the scientific knowledge of the

planet gained through research, satellites, remote sensing, GIS and latest data modules which have

taught us that very few of these events are caused by nature while most of these are manmade caused by

anthropogenic activities. If most of them cannot be avoided completely at least we can minimize the

extent of their damage. The unique geo-climatic conditions and lack of awareness about sustainable

development and conservative agriculture have exposed this country to natural catastrophes that comes

suddenly or after some clear indications.

Another phenomenon of shift in monsoon course was also recorded after analyzing the causes of 2010

floods. That monsoon course shifted from the East Pakistan (Punjab) to the North West mostly Khyber

Pukhtunkhwa. Punjab is capable of absorbing the monsoon rains due to its plains, cultivated fields and

well-designed canal system. The institutions are also more effective and working in well co-ordinated

manner. The KP has got sloppy area where runoff water flows down with more speed without any check

or having permeable surface for infiltration. Therefore, 2010 floods were more severe. If the rainfall

distribution in Pakistan is not latitudinal more rains will occur in the West causing more severe floods.

Pakistan Metrology Department also holds the climate change responsible for shift of monsoon pattern

from East to North-West. To understand that shift a phenomenon andquot;westerly waveandquot; must be understood

where low-pressure area collects moisture from the Mediterranean Sea and is responsible for the snows

that fall in the Karakoram Mountains. In 2010 due to the blockage of the jet streamand#39;s normal course, the

westerly wave followed its winter trajectory in late July and early August instead, meeting the monsoon

system at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Some other factors like La Niña phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean,

excessive amount of moisture pumped into the atmosphere, high water surface temperatures in the

Mediterranean and Bay of Bengal must also be investigated in detail.

The irony is that in Pakistan deforestation is going on without any check or remediation. The huge

watersheds and catchment areas are left without vegetative cover to cause severe soil erosion and loss of

water. On the other side environmental record of the country is also very poor. Pakistan is reported to be

in the grip of severe climate change recorded through the rise in temperature, melting of glaciers,

extreme events and deteriorating conditions of the natural resources like surface and ground water

depletion, soil erosion, diminishing water reservoirs and loss of vegetation and biota etc. All of the

above mentioned factors and institutional negligence contributed to severity of the Pakistans 2010

floods where Khyber Pukhtunkhwa was the worst hit in Pakistans history. Millions of people were

displaced, thousands died and a huge number of houses were destroyed. After the damages various

Government institutions with the help of the other world spend on rehabilitation and resettlement of the

affected people by supplying food, medicine and shelter to save them from the immediate threat to their

lives. It is therefore suggested that the Government should plan in advance to prevent the floods or

minimize the damages caused due to this. Following are the suggested interventions and their

implementation to minimize the severity of any future floods in Pakistan;

Suggested Interventions

1. The available statistical data from Pakistan Metrology Deptt/Climate Change

Ministry/WAPDA/Department of Soil Conservation/Agriculture Engineering/Water

management/Flood Commission/Disaster management Authority etc. should be collected and

brought to one point. After compilation and analysis with latest tools this should be

communicated to the concerned departments for policy making and planning.

2. Identify points/areas where specific interventions are required.

3. Most of cultivated soils should be ploughed to keep it porous and permeable to absorb maximum

quantity of water and leave less for runoff.

4. To arrest the excess water for more time by increasing its infiltration in the soil and leave less to

flow along the surface. Small and big bunds should be made in big plan areas and across the

slopes in mountains, small check dams should be made in big gullies to lower down the water

speed and give it more time to be absorbed to lessen the flood damage.

5. Strengthening of embankments is also recommended to keep rivers on their course.

6. Mitigating climate change impact through promoting vegetative cover on the soil, afforestation

of the watersheds, embankments and basins.

7. Applying location specific land use patterns and cropping technology to minimize the runoff

water left like eyebrow terracing and contour cropping on the mountains and sloppy areas..

8. Construction of effective and sufficient discharge mechanism for each river andamp; its tributaries and

big water reservoir.

Implementation Mechanism

 The basic point is co-ordination and linkage among the institutions involved in Agriculture,

Environment, Water, Engineering like Pakistan Metrology Deptt/Climate Change Ministry/

WAPDA/ Department of Soil Conservation/ Agriculture Engineering/Water Management/Flood

Commission/Forest andamp; Wild Life Departments and Disaster Management Authority etc.

 The funds allocated by Govt./ Banks/ Insurance companies/ NGOs/ Donors/ Community to be

spent on rehabilitation must be planned to be spent in advance on the special floods mitigation

steps and mechanism.

 This objective can be achieved by a two pronged strategy of short and long term planning

involving the above mentioned departments along with Settlement/Revenue and Agriculture

Extension for specification of the most suitable areas with the help of GIS.

 The farmers must be educated and provided with machinery like tractors, bulldozers and other

equipment for cultivation, land leveling, cleaning and deepening of canals and bund making

where Community Organizations, Water Associations, Farmer Syndicates, Department of Soil

Conservation, Agriculture Extension and Agricultural Engineering can play an important role.

 The existing water channels should be renovated, reconstructed and reinstated to accommodate

maximum amount of water in the system during floods. The Departments of Water Management

and Irrigation can contribute a lot in this regard.

By Web Team

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