by Nick Aspinwall
Oct. 08, 2022
image above: Courtesy of Heritage Foundation of Pakistan
WN: Wow! The article below is immensely hopeful!
After leaving more than 100 people dead and causing an immense amount of devastation throughout the Gulf Coast and Southeast, Hurricane Ian has reminded Americans once again of the havoc extreme floods can cause to our communities. But Ian wasn’t even the worst lesson in flood dangers this year—nor was the extreme rainfall in Seoul that left Parasite-style basement homes flooded in August.
Halfway around the globe, Pakistan is still reeling from catastrophic flooding that has affected 33 million people, killed 1,600, and left one-third of the country submerged. Torrential rains swept away buildings and crops, sending water and debris barreling through town squares as residents fled for higher ground, leaving millions in need of food and shelter. It was perhaps the most damaging weather event in a year of record-shattering rain, heat and drought that exceeded even the most dire predictions of climatologists.
The weather patterns brought on by our hotter, more volatile world are disproportionately affecting Pakistan, whose geography leaves its 220 million people vulnerable to the worst effects of climate change despite contributing just 0.3 percent of historic carbon emissions, according to the Global Change Data Lab. Pakistan is billions of dollars in debt, and the United Nations has thus far collected less than $100 million in flood aid, a far cry from the $816 million it asked for and the $40 billion its government estimates it needs to restore damaged communities. There’s not much people can do for immediate relief, aside from rebuilding their own communities to be more resilient.
Yasmeen Lari, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan, switched her focus to humanitarian work after a long career as Pakistan’s first practicing woman architect. After parts of Pakistan were devastated by a 7.5-magnitude earthquake that hit neighboring Afghanistan in 2015, Lari, now 81, started experimenting with shelters that could be constructed from local materials, disassembled and moved, and required minimal building expertise.
Her nonprofit has now developed one design for zero-carbon, low cost shelters that are made from locally sourced bamboo. The shelters are a potential lifeline for millions of Pakistani flood survivors who are still living in tents or temporary homes. Government officials and farmers warn that millions could face severe food shortages and become vulnerable to waterborne diseases. “I don’t think anyone ever expected the kind of calamity that’s befallen this country,” Lari told The Daily Beast. “It’s a very bleak scenario right now.”
They’re also a display of a disaster relief model that could take root anywhere and empower communities—even poorer ones—to decide what’s best for them. Lari’s nonprofit has provided direct remote training to students in Bangladesh and elsewhere in the Global South, and one community in South Africa is planning to build flood shelters like those in Pakistan. “If I can just train people all over, then it starts happening,” Lari said.
Please see this video demonstration of further possibilities:
Please click on: Lifeline for Future Flood Victims