Disaster Risk Reduction in Pakistan, Status Report (July 2019)

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Pakistan is located in South Asia, sharing borders with India, Iran, Afghanistan, and China. The total land area covers 770,875 km2 , which is divided into three major geographicregions: the Balochistan Plateau, Indus River plains, as well as the northern mountain ranges (the Himalayas, Karakorum, and the Hindukush). The climate varies largely depending on the topography, but most of the country is covered by dry deserts – 60 percent of the total land area is classified as arid, receiving less than 200 mm of rainfall annually (ADRC, 2016). Despite the arid to semi-arid conditions, Pakistan encompasses a wide range of ecosystems, which are categorized into 12 vegetative zones from snowfields and cold deserts to swamps and mangrove forests at the Indus River plains (Baig & Al-Subaiee, 2009).

In terms of hazards, Pakistan is among the most disaster-prone countries in South Asia, having suffered an estimated US$ 18 billion in damages and losses during the past decade (World Bank, 2017). For example, tectonic processes at the colliding boundaries of the Indian and the Eurasian tectonic plates, driving the Himalayan orogeny, are causing significant seismic instabilities in the region. Regular flooding also takes place at the Indus river basin where major floods occur during the July-September monsoon season as a result of the seasonal low depressions developing over the Arabian sea or the Bay of Bengal (NDMI, NDMA, UNDP, 2007). Heatwaves in the early summer may also cause flooding at various sites due to many rivers being snow-fed. Other hazards include droughts, landslides, storms and cyclones, glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), avalanches and technological accidents (NDMI, NDMA, UNDP, 2007). Pakistan has also been ranked highly in the Climate Vulnerability Index of 2019 - ranking 8th among the 10 most affected countries by extreme weather events between 1997 and 2016 (GermanWatch, 2019).

Despite the recurrent disasters, Pakistan has made significant progress in economic and human development by reducing absolute poverty and increasing shared prosperity over the past two decades. Between 1991 and 2011 the number of people with an income less than US$ 1.25 a day was more than halved (World Bank, 2014), and the country has a future potential for rapid growth similar to that of other South Asian nations.