Pakistan: Severe winter DREF Operation n° MDRPK018 Final Report



Description of the disaster

In January 2020, several parts of Pakistan were hit by heavy rains and snow fall which resulted in flash floods, avalanches, and landslides in certain areas of AJK and Balochistan. According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) situation report published on 23 January 20201 , at least 107 people died because of the severe weather conditions. Among them, 21 fatalities were in Balochistan, five in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), two in Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and 79 in AJK. As a result, Balochistan provincial government declared a state of emergency in 11 districts and requested NDMA to allow humanitarian organizations to support Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) in reaching out to the people in need.
Furthermore, the AJK government also declared Neelum, Leepa and Bhadi as disaster hit areas, nominating a Relief Commissioner to manage the relief activities in these areas.

BBC news reported that the snowfall in these areas reached historic levels for both Kashmir and Balochistan. Ziarat,
Harnoi, Kan Mehtarzai, Muslim Bagh, Khanozai and Khojak Pass in Balochistan were blanketed in snow. The highways between Quetta-Sibi, Quetta-Karachi and Quetta-Zhob were also blocked. Meanwhile, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reported that around 1 million people had been affected by the cold wave (around 140,000 families) .
In Kharan, Panjgor and Gwadar districts Balochistan, heavy rains were reported which resulted in flash-flooding in different areas of mentioned districts. In total, 56mm rainfall was recorded in Turbat, 40mm in Pasni and 26mm in Pishin.

In Kashmir, the worst affected district was Neelum (extreme north district of AJK) due to heavy snowfall, rain and avalanche created havoc, whereby 79 people died, and more than 91 houses were destroyed. The total population affected by the avalanches in district Neelum were 910 households (6,370 people), with another 3,134 households (21,938 people) indirectly affected by the heavy snow.

Astore valley received 100 years record-breaking snowfall in some areas, as reported by media and Gilgit Baltistan Disaster Management Authority (GBDMA). Two people lost their lives due to an avalanche, while four were injured. The heavy snowfall paralyzed life in the region, with residents in northern valleys restricted to their homes. Gilgit Baltistan authorities mobilized all their resources to open the blocked roads and to assist the people in need.

As a result of heavy rain and snowfall, the upper reaches of Neelum and Leepa and some mountainous tops of AJK were disconnected from the rest of the country through land routes. The roads and telecommunication networks were severely affected in AJK, Balochistan, KP, GB and adjoining areas owing to the heavy downpour in plains and snowfall on mountains. This emergency situation not only took precious lives but also halted the normal life of thousands of local people. Furthermore, since local people in this region make their living through daily wage jobs, livestock rearing, farming and small businesses, blockage of pathways and roads directly affected their livelihoods. Adding to their misery, the extreme cold weather conditions (up to minus 16°C) also confined people to their houses.