Tag Archives: Flood

Karachi slum dwellers chart flood risk to stop evictions – Pakistan | Instant News

Published in 12 April 2021 14:58

Residents always insist that flooding is mainly caused by drains clogged with garbage.

KARACHI (Reuters) – Slum residents in the Pakistani city of Karachi have stopped demolition of thousands of homes by mapping flood risks from clogged waterways, offering viable solutions for other informal settlements facing the effects of climate change, urban experts say.

After unexpected torrential rains flooded much of Karachi last year, authorities said some slums would be relocated to allow the waterways to be widened, with hundreds of homes in the Manzoor Colony settlement to be demolished.

Residents who have maintained that flooding is mainly caused by drains clogged with garbage and mud, are working with a non-profit organization to map the drainage network.

“They produced their own evidence to reveal the reasons – ignored by the authorities – why the Karachi floods,” said Arif Hasan, an architect and planner who supported the mapping project.

“People believe that if these barriers are removed and waterways cleaned and maintained, flooding will not occur,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

About 12 million people out of Karachi’s 16 million inhabitants live in informal settlements, and are increasingly vulnerable as Pakistan’s largest city faces flooding that is getting worse as South Asia’s monsoon season brings extreme weather.

Karachi, Pakistan’s financial center, has a network of 550 rainwater channels that run through the city and empty into the Arabian Sea. Many are blocked by illegal construction and waste.

Authorities say they clean drains every year before the rainy season, except last year when the provincial government did not provide funds. Unusual torrential rains killed dozens of people, submerged main roads and inundated hundreds of homes.

To map the Manzoor Colony sewer, a team from the non-profit Technical Training Resource Center (TTRC) walked together with residents, photographing, tagging and mapping more than a dozen blockages.

Their map shows only about 40 houses that need to be moved to get clean water, said Mohammad Sirajuddin, head of the TTRC, who is leading the mapping project.

“The authorities say thousands of houses need to be demolished, but our map shows otherwise,” he said.

In November, residents managed to stop a planned demolition at the Manzoor Colony.

While it is not certain whether the authorities will use the community flood risk map in the future, residents now know where the choking spots are and how they can deal with the danger, Sirajuddin said.

Two other informal settlements in Karachi are being mapped, with residents – especially young people – being trained, he said, adding that the model could be replicated across the country.

These maps also generate important data on households, said Nausheen Anwar, director of the Karachi Urban Lab, a think tank.

“The maps provide a process by which consensus can be built and the involvement of all residents can be negotiated to prevent evictions and establish the basis for fair compensation and resettlement,” he said.

By 2030, more than half of Pakistan’s estimated 250 million people are expected to live in cities, compared with 36% now, according to the United Nations.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has pledged to build 5 million affordable homes within five years to address chronic shortages, with housing rights groups warning that the poorer population faces eviction as pressure on land increases.

“When youth in the settlements are trained on mapping, they better understand the risks they face,” said Sirajuddin of TTRC.

“They understand their rights, and can fight evictions.”


image source

Drought, fire and floods hit Australia in the bush | Instant News

HOLLISDALE, Australia (Reuters) – Robert Costigan thought the worst was behind him when he saved two family properties from wildfires last summer.

This year, they drifted away.

The home of Australian breeder and father-in-law Brian Watt, who lives next door, swept its foundations this month when heavy rains caused the river to reach its highest level in half a century, submerging bridges and buildings. Watt’s house crashed into a telegraph pole.

“If it weren’t for bad luck, I probably wouldn’t have had any at all,” Costigan told Reuters on his 100-acre property in Hollisdale, 400 km (249 miles) north of Sydney.

Days after the flood, the property was filled with farm equipment, trees and overturned debris.

“I don’t know if it’s just someone testing me or what, but that’s what I guess. You can get through it, ”he added, holding back tears.

Costigan’s ordeal is familiar to thousands of people living outside the cities on Australia’s densely populated east coast.

After years of drought devastating crops and livestock, they battled the country’s worst wildfires in a generation in the southern hemisphere’s 2019-20 summer, only to face flooding amidst this year’s La Nina wet weather event.

The same river system Costigan used to pump water to save her home from wildfires has returned to destroy it with floods.

The water level had receded but the insurance company had removed the building, with the wooden structures torn off, the tin roof shattered and everyday objects – mattresses, fluffy children’s toys – in disarray.

When the fire broke out, the family remained safe in the city because Costigan remained on the property in an effort to protect it. Now they all live with neighbors, homeless and heartbroken.

Two days before the house was swept away, Costigan’s daughter, Eva, had to cancel her 11th birthday party because of the flood.

“He was upset about it and then we had to tell him he lost his house Saturday morning. “All the gifts he got on Thursday are gone,” said Costigan.

Even so, the 39-year-old farmer, who also works for the local council, vows to rebuild.

“I’ve worked too hard to just walk away,” he said.

Reporting by Stefica Nicol Bikes; Written by Byron Kaye; Edited by Karishma Singh


image source

Spiders shelter in the backyard fence of Australian men in the midst of floods in New South Wales | Instant News

NEW SOUTH WALES, Australia – Thousands of spiders fled floodwaters in Kinchela, New South Wales, taking cover in a backyard fence, footage taken on the March 23 event.

PHOTO: ‘Stuff of nightmares’: Hunter spiders eat dwarf possums

This video by Matthew Lovenfosse captures arachnids climbing over each other as they slide to higher ground. Apart from the spider, a voice outside the screen could be heard telling Lovenfosse that they had found a “little snake”. He walked to find the snake lying on the porch of his house with its head raised.

ALSO SEE: Humans use torches to kill spiders, burn old people’s houses

Weather warnings and evacuation orders were in place for parts of New South Wales amid days of severe flooding in the state.


image source

‘Deliberate ignorance’: Flood-stricken Australia is urging to rethink climate inaction | Instant News

Australia, currently battling the worst floods in more than half a century, has failed to adapt quickly enough to the growing threat it faces from the effects of climate change, with its population now suffering the effects of “deliberate ignorance”, cautioned analysts.

Torrential rains have hit parts of the country this week, sweeping away homes, roads and livestock, and cutting across towns in the east. Dangerous flash floods have killed two people and more than 40,000 have been forced to flee their homes.

“They call Australia the ‘disaster alley’ because we have it all,” said Karl Mallon, Sydney-based CEO of Climate Assessment, which advises homeowners and buyers about climate risks and extreme weather.

As global warming accelerates, it is bringing more devastating storms, floods and heat waves to Australia, more severe droughts and an increased risk of bushfires.

“It’s a shame for us that we haven’t tackled this thing … We have every incentive and money to do it, it’s just that we don’t see it,” said Mallon.

Despite having known about climate change since the 1980s, Australia has continued to build houses on floodplains, he said.

The problem is often rooted in “willful ignorance,” he said, citing the government’s reliance on land taxes, builders and developers putting profits before safety from climate threats, and homeowners trying to minimize insurance payments.

Property buyers were given little information about flood risk, either by local governments or by banks and insurance companies, Mallon said.

“Sometimes the first time they find out is when they get hit – and they say ‘I didn’t know I was in a flood zone’,” he added.

Richie Merzian, director of the climate and energy program at think-tank The Australia Institute, said approaches to adapting to the impacts of climate change have so far fluctuated between federal, state and council levels, limiting resilience.

“The federal government appears to be allergic to any mention of climate change hindering a smart policy response,” he said.

Floods were seen around the Australian Air Force Base in Richmond on Sydney’s northwestern outskirts on Wednesday. | AUSTRALIAN DEFENSE FORCE / VIA AFP-JIJI

Last year’s bushfires – what Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Australia’s “black summer” – killed more than 30 people, destroyed wildlife and razed more than 24 million hectares (59 million acres).

As the crisis hit, Morrison’s representatives reportedly partially blamed the “self-burning pile of shit.”

Meanwhile, the health of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the world’s most extensive and spectacular coral reef ecosystem, is in critical condition and worsening as climate change heats the waters in which it resides, conservation groups say.

“The first thing is to recognize that the climate impacts are going to get worse and ‘one in 100 years’ events will become more common, and we need to plan for that reality,” said Cam Walker, campaign coordinator at Friends of Bumi Australia.

To deal with risks, a region-based adaptation approach must be devised that allows for a combined response between different levels of government and society, he said.

Mallon said the government, mortgage lenders and insurance companies need to offer incentives to homeowners to better upgrade and protect their properties, ensuring that roofs are stronger against storms and flood barriers are built around high-risk buildings.

At the city level, improved drainage, better sea walls and modern fire fighting equipment would help, he added.

To reduce damage from bushfires, he advises risky property owners to clean flammable gutters, install sprinklers and shutters that prevent embers and use fire-resistant paint.

Australia has sophisticated weather monitoring systems and has been able to issue flood alerts and evacuate those in danger, potentially saving thousands of lives, said Merzian of The Australia Institute.

But despite the country’s vulnerability to climate impacts, the government has been slow to carry out a national climate assessment or prepare a National Adaptation Plan, he said.

In January, Australia’s environment minister committed to coming up with a new climate resilience and adaptation strategy this year, which will be published before the UN climate talks COP26 in November.

As part of the initiative, Canberra said it would invest an initial 12.9 million Australian dollars ($ 9.8 million) to prepare for a disaster.

Protecting and restoring wetlands, mangroves and forests will help protect communities from floods and storms, while more trees in the city will also reduce the effects of heat, the greening group said.

Changing crop and cultivation practices, and introducing livestock types that can tolerate drier conditions, are other options for fighting drought, said Will Steffen, a climate scientist at the Australian National University.

But conservative governments are reluctant to change established practices in the agriculture and construction sectors, he said, adding that climate change has become a “partisan political issue.”

The car sat in floodwaters in Londonderry, a suburb outside Sydney, on Thursday.  |  AFP-JIJI
The car sat in floodwaters in Londonderry, a suburb outside Sydney, on Thursday. | AFP-JIJI

Environmentalists say Australia is its own worst enemy due to its continued dependence on coal-fired power, which makes it one of the world’s largest per capita carbon emitters.

Green groups have long lobbied the government to dump fossil fuels and set goals of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 – so far with little success.

“The government’s failure to reduce emissions significantly puts Australia and the Pacific region at risk of more fires, floods and typhoons,” said Martin Zavan, a campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

“In terms of adaptation, you can’t just put tape on the bullet holes and hope it gets better,” he added.

Friends of the Earth’s Walker notes that Australia has produced 240 reports of natural disasters since 1920, but its citizens are still suffering the consequences.

“Adaptation without mitigation (emissions) means giving up on the issue of climate change,” he said.

In times of misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more important than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us tell the story right.




image source

Australia experiences drought, fires, floods and robber rats | Instant News

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – Rob Costigan bought a rugged farm in rural Australia three years ago with the dream of building it into something he could leave behind for his children.

One year later, he needed to truck water to combat an extreme drought. Then, Australia’s deadly wildfires raged towards the end of 2019, forcing Costigan to spend day after day turning out coals and running sprinklers on its roof to save his home, in an eerie setting akin to Armageddon.

Then last week, on the day her daughter Eva was supposed to celebrate her 11th birthday, there came a flood. Thankfully, his family had left to live in his brother’s house.

The water roared with such force that it lifted both the Costigan farmhouse and the second home where her father-in-law lived from their foundation, destroying both of them. The family is still picking up toys and clothes that are strewn everywhere – they even found their barbecue gas bottle stuck in a tree.

“Just don’t believe it,” said Costigan. “It feels like the world is against us. You work hard and then everything is cleared away in the blink of an eye. “

Costigan, 40, a road maintenance worker whose ranch is in the Hollisdale community about a five-hour drive north of Sydney, said he was grateful he had managed to avoid yet another catastrophe so far – a plague of rats that affected several farms in the region. Maybe, he hoped, the flood could help wash them away.

Australia has always been a land of bad weather, where drought and fire are part of the nation’s soul. But experts say that global warming is likely to make recent weather events even more extreme. The forest fires that raged until early last year killed at least 33 people and destroyed more than 3,000 homes.

“This event was to be expected,” said Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a climate scientist at the University of New South Wales. “But climate change has put them on steroids.”

He explains that paradoxically, a warming atmosphere can exacerbate droughts and floods. The extra heat can suck more moisture from the soil during the dry season. But warmer air can also hold more moisture, he says, so when it rains.

Several cities in New South Wales have set record rainfall for 50 or 100 years over the past week. The floods have killed two people in separate incidents, both trapped in their cars, and have forced more than 20,000 people to flee.

Dale Ward this week tried to clean up the rented apartment he owns, and where his daughter and their family live, in the city of Windsor. He said he was mopping up the mud after about 1 foot (30 centimeters) of water ran out, destroying a box of photos and other memorabilia.

“It’s like someone dropped three tons of dirt on your house, and then dropped a bucket of water on it,” he said.

Ward estimates it will take at least a month to make the place habitable again, with plumbers and electricians needed to fix everything.

Elsewhere, people are still facing plague of rats. Last year in eastern Australia, months of rain doused wildfires and ended a drought that has crippled the region for more than two years. That led to overgrowth on many farms, and an explosion in the rat population.

Pompy Singh, manager of the Spar supermarket in the town of Gulargambone, said they were starting to see rat numbers increase before Christmas. They used to set one or two traps a day, he said. They began to buy much bigger traps and set more until they set 20 at a time.

Suddenly they catch 100 or 200 mice every day. The creatures began to eat everything from lettuce and potato chips to dog food and even tobacco. Singh says they started keeping everything in fridge or closed container.

Still, he said, the rats kept coming. Several days, they chased up to 600. Even the refrigerator kept breaking when the mice chewed on the wires. Singh said the number of rats appeared to have decreased somewhat since the floods hit, although they still caught a lot.

And Australia’s problems may not be over. Some experts have warned people to inspect their shoes and clothes for deadly spiders, as swarms of them seek protection from flood waters by moving into residential homes.

Meanwhile, Costigan says he wants to rebuild. He’s spent too much time putting up fences on his fields – many of which survived the floods – and making other improvements to give up now. He added that he moved his small herd of cattle to higher ground before the floods hit and they all survived.

Costigan said he feels lucky his farmhouse is insured and is also grateful to family members and neighbors who have contributed to online funding to help his family rebuild.

He says these kinds of problems all come with living in Australia, and may even explain why the British originally treated the continent as a place to send their captives.

“They think it’s hell on earth,” he said. “What they don’t realize is that it’s a beautiful part of the world.”


image source