The impact of Karachi floods on Pakistan's economy

Karachi is Pakistan’s largest metropolitan city with a population of approximately 18 million-plus. Karachi is a unique city, catering to an ever-increasing linguistically, religiously, and ethnically diverse population. The total size of Pakistan’s economy is estimated at $1.2 trillion (PPP), in which Karachi alone contributes $164 Billion. This accounts for 20% of the total GDP of the country.

Leading business consultancies in Pakistan are ringing alarm bells for

The recent monsoon rainfall left the city devastated, with the Sindh government declaring public holidays due to urban flooding. Monsoon spells started in the last week of August and continuing to the 2nd week of September observed record rainfall since the city’s meteorological department started measurements in 1931. 345mm of rain fell on different Karachi areas in a single day and 760mm in the last week of August. It broke the record rainfall of 294mm in 1984. The images below compare the state of water reservoirs of Sindh on the same date one year apart.

Sindh on 21 September 2020
Sindh on 21 September 2019

The provincial capital is the business hub of Pakistan. It is the most business-friendly city in Pakistan due to its unique geographical location at the bank of the Arabian sea and two large seaports, the Port of Karachi and Port Bin Qasim. Hence, the city served as the gateway to Pakistan and evolved into a trade and financial powerhouse over the years. But recent flooding has left the business sector of the city in turmoil.

The cause of urban flooding alongside record rainfall is due to the administrative negligence the city is subject to for decades. The clogged drains and lack of flood drainage systems led to severe flooding, choking the city of its regular trade and business hustle. Sindh government had to declare public holidays and employee boats for rescue operations.

When the business stops in Karachi, its effects are far-reaching and affect the whole country. During flooding, businesses across the provincial capital suffered a loss of $449 million daily. The figure does not entirely depict the level of damage. If the public property losses and infrastructure losses are considered, the figure soars even higher.

Future implications of Karachi Floods

It has become evident what an aggravated weather condition can do to the economic outlook of the country. Karachi has dented the country’s GDP due to the floods, and it might happen again if concrete steps are not taken to tackle adverse climate changes.

Monsoon flooding is not the only problem that Pakistan and the world are facing; there are heat waves, mass wildfires, hurricanes, and tsunamis threatening routine life in several cities around the globe. The climate issues are only going to exacerbate if appropriate measure s are not taken presently.

The deteriorating environment brings social enigmas with itself, just like what happened in Karachi in mid-2020. If the trend continues in the future, the calibre of the problems is only going to increase. There was extensive property damage, a full stop on business activities, and administrative problems brought life to a halt in one of Pakistan’s most vibrant cities.

Governments worldwide must take vigilant action to minimize the economic activities’ climate impact, or the grave circumstances will continue to exacerbate, causing severe damages to life and property.

Being the largest revenue-generating city of Pakistan, a halt in economic activity will initiate a domino effect that will impact the whole country. Karachi is one of the busiest ports. Most of the country’s trade is regulated through this city; flooding or other natural disasters in the future will result in a trade blockade that might cause the loss of millions of dollars.