Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that the apocalyptic rains and floods that had hit the country last summer claimed 1,700 lives, left a swathe of territory the size of Switzerland under water and affected 33 million people -- more people than live in most European countries.
In an article for the Guardian newspaper, the premier wrote: "International attention has receded, but the waters have not. Large parts of Sindh and Balochistan provinces remain inundated.
The number of food-insecure people in Pakistan has doubled to 14 million; another 9 million have been pushed into extreme poverty. These flooded areas now look like a huge series of permanent lakes, transforming forever the terrain and the lives of people living there.
No amount of pumps can remove this water in less than a year; and by July 2023, the worry is that these areas may flood again," The Express Tribune reported. "Pakistan is suffering not just from flooding but from recurring climate extremes - earlier in spring 2022, the country was in the grip of a scorching, drought-aggravating heatwave that caused forest fires in the west.
The fact that some of the same areas that received record temperatures were subsequently submerged underlines the sharp swings in weather patterns that are becoming a norm," he wrote.
Sharif said that a post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA), carried out in collaboration with the World Bank and the European Union (EU), estimated that the damage caused by floods exceeded $30 billion -- a 10th of Pakistan's entire GDP.