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Care Pakistan: The Seeds of Flood Relief HA-21-8-10


By Tony J. Sanders


Over the course of July and early August 2010, Pakistan experienced the worst monsoon-related floods in living memory. Heavy rainfall, flash floods and riverine floods have devastated large parts of Pakistan since the arrival of seasonal monsoon rains on 22 July.  The five rivers that drain northern Pakistan join to form the Indus River that drains into the Arabian Sea. The water flow is expected to reach 1 million cubic feet per second, nearly double the flow of the Mississippi River. This is 10 times the normal flow of the Indus. Much of the nation’s 170 million people live in the floodplain.  About one million homes have been damaged, twenty million people have been displaced and the loss of life is estimated at anywhere from 1,300 to 1,600 lives. 160,000 sq. km of land have been submerged, a fifth of the country.  Villages and villagers were reportedly washed away by walls of water, entire districts submerged, cropland inundated, drinking water contaminated, communications down, bridges destroyed, roads gone, schools gone, homes gone, thousands of them in the more severely affected districts.  An estimated 6 million people need food, 2 million are homeless and 750,000 homes have been destroyed or are in need of repair.  The World Bank has pledged $900 million and the Asian Development Bank has given $3 million for immediate needs and committed at least $2 billion over the next two years for reconstruction.  The United Nations is asking for another $450 million to deal with immediate humanitarian needs and as of August 17, 2010, $125 million had been contributed.


Description: Description: Description: Description: map showing the widespread and hard hit areas in Pakistan from flooding

Monsoon flooding has been extremely severe this year.  Flood surges sweep down from mountainous areas in the north reaching more highly populated areas in days.  Once the peak passes, another flood forms in the mountains, and then a third. Fresh flows of water are caused by rainfall in the mountains.  The southwestern summer monsoons occur from June through September. The Thar Desert and adjoining areas of the northern and central Indian subcontinent heat up considerably during the hot summers, causing a low pressure area over the northern and central Indian subcontinent. To fill this void, the moisture-laden winds from the Indian Ocean rush in to the subcontinent. These winds, rich in moisture, are drawn towards the Himalayas, creating winds blowing storm clouds towards the subcontinent. The Himalayas act like a high wall, blocking the winds from passing into Central Asia, thus forcing them to rise. With the gain in altitude of the clouds, the temperature drops and precipitation occurs. Some areas of the subcontinent receive up to 10,000 mm (390 in) of rain.  Most of the heaviest rainfall fell over three days in late July (28th-30th), particularly in the Gilgit Baltisan / Azad Kashmir and Khyber Paktunkhwa regions.  The Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) recorded July rainfall totals of 179.5% above normal.  Even recording stations in northern Punjab received heavy rainfall, with some parts of Islamabad totaling more than 250mm on 30th July.  It is important to realize that Pakistan expects to receive monsoon rains during the months of July and August.

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Source: Weather and Climate Discussion Blog



So what have been the causes?   The Weather and Climate Discussion blog found there is evidence in the theta on PV2 animation of 23rd-30th July suggesting a persistent upper level trough located over northern Pakistan, particularly during the latter stages of that week.  By examining the stream function at this level, an interesting picture emerges.  Over the tropical Pacific Ocean anomalously cool ocean temperatures are developing - known as a La Nina event. Such cool conditions can often be associated with heavier than normal monsoon rains over the South Asian region, however there is no reason to blame it for this particular event just yet.  The suggestion is one of an omega-shaped (Ω) blocking pattern centered near the Ural Mountains in Russia, implicated in recent soaring temperatures and wildfires during the persistent heat wave in Moscow and other regions.  A pair of troughs is noted to the south-west and east, appearing as perturbations to the stationary wave running along the 35-45°N latitude band.  A monsoon low is currently centered over southern Pakistan. This low will continue to steer moisture into the mountains of northern Pakistan for at least the next week. This pattern could hold sway through mid-August.  Rainfall over the next week will exceed 10 inches in some mountainous areas of northern Pakistan. There is the potential to double the rainfall received since the monsoon began in mid-July.  Pakistan Rainfall in July was high, 22.8 inches in Murree, 22.8 inches in Muzaffarabad, 22.4 inches in Garhi Dopatta, 20.8 inches in Mianwali and 19.7 inches in Islamabad (10.1 inches on July 30 alone).


Cloud seeding, a form of weather modification, is the attempt to change the amount or type of precipitation that falls from clouds, by dispersing substances into the air that serve as cloud condensation or ice nuclei, which alter the microphysical processes within the cloud.  The most common chemicals used for cloud seeding include silver iodide and dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide). The expansion of liquid propane into a gas has also been used and can produce ice crystals at higher temperatures than silver iodide. The use of hygroscopic materials, such as salt, is increasing in popularity because of some promising research results.  Seeding of clouds requires that they contain super-cooled liquid water—that is, liquid water colder than zero degrees Celsius. Introduction of a substance such as silver iodide, which has a crystalline structure similar to that of ice, will induce freezing nucleation. Dry ice or propane expansion cools the air to such an extent that ice crystals can nucleate spontaneously from the vapor phase.  Seeding of warm-season or tropical cumulonimbus (convective) clouds seeks to exploit the latent heat released by freezing. This strategy of "dynamic" seeding assumes that the additional latent heat adds buoyancy, strengthens updrafts, ensures more low-level convergence, and ultimately causes rapid growth of properly selected clouds.  Cloud seeding chemicals may be dispersed by aircraft (as in the second figure) or by dispersion devices located on the ground (generators, as in first figure, or canisters fired from anti-aircraft guns or rockets). For release by aircraft, silver iodide flares are ignited and dispersed as an aircraft flies through the inflow of a cloud. When released by devices on the ground, the fine particles are carried downwind and upwards by air currents after release.


Vincent Schaefer (1906–1993) discovered the principle of cloud seeding using dry ice in July 1946.  Within the month, Schaefer's colleague, the noted atmospheric scientist Dr. Bernard Vonnegut (brother of novelist Kurt Vonnegut) is credited with discovering another method for "seeding" supercooled cloud water using silver iodide. The first attempt to modify natural clouds in the field through "cloud seeding" began during a flight that began in upstate New York on 13 November 1946. Schaefer was able to cause snow to fall near Mount Greylock in western Massachusetts, after he dumped six pounds of dry ice into the target cloud from a plane after a 60 mile easterly chase from the Schenectady County Airport. From March 1967 until July 1972, the U.S. military's Operation Popeye cloud-seeded silver iodide to extend the monsoon season over North Vietnam, specifically the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The operation resulted in the targeted areas seeing an extension of the monsoon period an average of 30 to 45 days. The 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron carried out the operation to "make mud, not war". In 1969 at the Woodstock Festival, various people claimed to have witnessed clouds being seeded by the U.S. military. This was said to be the cause of the rain which lasted throughout most of the festival.  An attempt by the United States military to modify hurricanes in the Atlantic basin using cloud seeding in the 1960s was called Project Stormfury was discontinued. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation of the Department of Interior sponsored several cloud seeding research projects under the umbrella of Project Skywater from 1964 to 1988, and NOAA conducted the Atmospheric Modification Program from 1979 to 1993. The sponsored projects were carried out in several states and two countries (Thailand and Morocco), studying both winter and summer cloud seeding. Reclamation sponsored a small cooperative research program with six Western states called the Weather Damage Modification Program, from 2002–2006.


About 24 countries currently practice weather modification operationally. The largest cloud seeding system in the world is that of the People's Republic of China, which believes that it increases the amount of rain over several increasingly arid regions, including its capital city, Beijing, by firing silver iodide rockets into the sky where rain is desired. There is even political strife caused by neighboring regions which accuse each other of "stealing rain" using cloud seeding. In Australia, CSIRO conducted major trials between 1947 and the early 1960s: in the Snowy Mountains, on the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, in the New England district of New South Wales, and in the Warragamba catchment area west of Sydney.  Only the trial conducted in the Snowy Mountains produced statistically significant rainfall increases over the entire experiment.  In Tasmania seeding resulted in increased rainfall by 30% in autumn and seeding has continued ever since.  Russian military pilots seeded clouds over Belarus after the Chernobyl disaster to remove radioactive particles from clouds heading toward Moscow.  The Russian Airforce tried seeding clouds with bags of cement on June 17, 2008, one of the bags did not pulverize and went through the roof of a house.  In October 2009, the Mayor of Moscow promised a "winter without snow" for the city after revealing efforts by the Russian Air Force to seed the clouds upwind from Moscow throughout the winter.  In India, Cloud seeding operations were conducted during the years 2003 and 2004 through U.S. based Weather Modification Inc. in state of Maharashtra. In 2008, there are plans for 12 districts of state of Andhra Pradesh.


Since Pakistani independence in 1947, river managers have expanded the canal system. Now, instead of the natural flow from the Himalaya in the north to the Arabian Sea in the south, the Indus is diverted, piecemeal, east or west, wherever it is needed to support farming. Such river diversion is a common sight around the world as populations and food production boom.  During its early years, Pakistan experienced severe floods in the years 1955 and 1956 in the Indus Basin Rivers. These floods however, could not initiate a national drive for flood protection as the land-use pattern till then was not so flood prone.  Contrived river boundaries and tributaries in essence prevent the Indus River Basin from holding as much water as it once did during heavy and prolonged rains.  Until a few decades ago, there were typically mild floods each summer—the time when the monsoon rainfall hits, and the melt from the snowpack in the Himalaya and Karakoram Mountains is at its peak. But now, because humans have sculpted the river and the surrounding natural floodplain and wetlands for farming and other needs, there are fewer floods, but when they hit, they are far worse.  The Indus and its canals are the largest irrigation system in the world," says Tahir Qureshi, a forestry expert with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and a former government forest officer and game warden.  Pakistan's irrigation system has turned this arid country into an agricultural powerhouse, but it has had its downside as well, experts say. "The major river engineering is basically a Faustian bargain," says Daanish Mustafa of King's College London, recalling the fable in which a man sells his soul to the devil in exchange for a life of luxury. Mustafa is a geographer who has studied the history of Pakistan's river management.  Economic growth and population pressure continued building up till it faced the disastrous floods of 1973 and then of 1976. Both these floods resulted in heavy losses to life and property.  The Federal Flood Commission (FFC) was created in January 1977.


During 1988 Pakistan suffered two major flood events, the first in July/August and the second in September/October. The first flood involved the Indus, Swat, Kabul and Jhelum Rivers. This flood caused only minor damage in Punjab, but resulted in significant damage in Sindh, Balochistan and NWFP, where exceptionally heavy rains coincided with the high river flow period.  The second flood was caused by heavy rains in the catchments of the Chenab (Pilot Study Area), Ravi and Sutlej Rivers. In response from an urgent request from the Government of Pakistan for emergency assistance to restore public sector infrastructure a loan was sanctioned worth USD 44.0 million.  Following the severe 1992 floods the Asian Development Bank approved the second Flood Damage Restoration (Sector) Project to re establish and restore the pre-flood capacities of critical public sector infrastructure in irrigation, drainage flood control, roads, health and education, damaged by these floods. The Government of Pakistan, World Bank and other donors planned to co-finance this USD 396 million project. This project was scheduled to be completed by June 1996, but was extended to December 1997.  Flood management is a multifunctional process involving organizations. The Government Organization, which plays major role in the flood management the PIDA, WAPDA, Provincial Relief Organizations, Pakistan Army, WIW, Emergency Relief cell, FFC and FFD.  The Provincial Irrigation and Drainage Authority (PIDA) that is responsible for flood forecasting, flow monitoring as well as flood mitigation.  The WAPDA is responsible for the maintenance of telemetric system of river and rain stations.  Provincial relief Organizations are responsible for disaster preparedness, emergency response including post-disaster response to disasters including floods.  The Pakistan Army corp of engineers is responsible for providing civilian authorities necessary assistance in the performance of rescue and relief operations.  The Commissioner for Indus Waters (CIW) is responsible for many dams and control structures as well as flood monitoring but its authority is limited to communicating with India. The Emergency Relief cell is controlled by the Cabinet Secretary to plan for emergencies, stockpile supplies, respond to disasters and coordinate international relief.  The Federal Flood Commission (FFC) provide the infrastructure for flood mitigation programs.  The Flood Forecasting Division (FFD) of the Pakistan Meteorological Department disseminates flood control data and disseminates it to national organizations.

Pakistan is an agricultural country. Eighty percent of its agricultural output comes from the Indus Basin.  Shortly after independence, on April 1, 1948, India stopped the supply of water to Pakistan from every canal flowing from India to Pakistan, after an interim agreement in 1948 the Indus Basin Water Treaty was signed in 1960. Because of Indus Treaty agreement between Pakistan and India a structural measure plan has been prepared by each district authority to monitor discharge data of the Indus and its tributaries. "There's not very much space in the river channel to absorb all the rainfall," says Asad Sarwar Qureshi, a water resources expert at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) branch in Lahore, Pakistan.  "We need to get it back into shape, so that it can carry its original capacity." Wetlands along the river’s course used to take up some floodwaters, and the government also used to divert excess water into "no man's land" during the monsoon season, he says. But those areas have been converted to farmland, he says. "There was absolutely a mad rush to settle in these floodplains," says Mustafa. Another part of the problem is that the Indus River and its tributaries carry some of the highest levels of silt of any river system.  More silt equals less room for water as monsoons and snowmelt inundate the now-confined riverbed and canals. "Most of our rivers and canals are already silted up".  Allowing the river to flood more regularly, and naturally, could help temper the floods and make them more tolerable, say Mustafa and other experts. "They need to give the rivers room to expand," Mustafa says. "Not along the whole way, but they should restore some of the wetlands along the way." At the same time, many of the levees should be kept in place, but maintained better, one way of doing this, he says, is to plant trees along the riverbanks. "When I was in the forestry department in the 1970s and ’80s," Tahir Qureshi says, "we used to broadcast seeds of Acacia nilotica," a native tree species. "They are soil binders, and a physical barrier to the flood flow. They are the flood guards, a biological means of protection." In the past couple of decades, however, many of the embankment forests and trees have died or been chopped down. Managing Pakistan's floods is a delicate balance between giving the river more room, and building barriers to protect people and their land.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has repeated his appeal for urgently needed aid to the more than 20 million victims of massive floods that have submerged a fifth of his country under water. Speaking ahead of a special session to be held in the U.N. General Assembly, Qureshi said the scale of the crisis is beyond the government's capacity.  It is the largest flood in Pakistani history. The United Nations appealed for $460 million to cover immediate humanitarian needs over the next three months. Slightly more than half that amount has been pledged or received. Minister Qureshi attributed that in part to what he called a "trust gap" and assured donors that their aid would be handled in a completely transparent manner.  "We are willing to put into place mechanisms that are transparent and are accountable, so that people of Pakistan and international contributors have the confidence that their money that they are contributing will be well spent. We will do whatever is required to fill that gap," Qureshi said.  U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Pakistan to prepare a report for the General Assembly and encourage donor countries to step up the speed and scope of their assistance saying, "3.2 million people were affected during the earthquake; over 20 million are affected today. Thirty thousand square kilometers was the area that was devastated [in 2005]. Now people are talking of 135,000 to 150,000 square kilometers. Nine districts were affected [in 2005] and now 74 districts are affected," he said. "Fortunately, the casualty rate is much, much lower, but the economic loss is huge."


The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), have jointly launched an International Flood Initiative (IFI).  Floods bring many benefits to floodplain areas, including, inter alia, the role that small floods play in the maintenance of floodplain fertility and the importance of regular flood flows to in-stream ecosystems. However, at the same time, floods can have devastating consequences for the communities at risk.  Floods affect an estimated 520 million people across the world yearly, resulting in up to 25,000 deaths in a single year. Along with other water-related diseases, they cost the world economy some US$ 50 to US$ 60 billion per annum. At the same time, both developed and developing countries have benefited from economic development in and around water bodies. Close to one billion people -- one-sixth of the global population, the majority of them among the world’s poorest inhabitants – now live on flood plains. Developing countries with mainly agricultural economies depend largely on their fertile flood plains for food security and livelihood generation. The deltas of many river systems favor low-tech agricultural practices and provide livelihoods for millions. The wetlands in flood plains contribute to biodiversity and provide a number of essential ecosystem services to communities, as well as creating employment opportunities through recreational activities.


An estimated 96 percent of deaths related to all natural disasters, including floods, in the past decade occurred in developing countries. The greatest potential flood hazard is in Asia, where, between 1900 and 2006, over 1200 floods claimed an average of 5300 lives per event and caused up to US$ 207 billion in economic losses. The adverse effects of flooding are not restricted to the least developed nations. The 2002 floods in Europe claimed 100 lives and caused US$ 20 billion in damage – but it is the least developed nations that suffer most from the adverse economic impact on development and the high human toll.  Integrated flood management builds the necessary in-country capacity to gain and advocate for a better understanding and handling of hazards, vulnerabilities and benefits associated with floods, by promoting all measures through the following guiding principles: Living with floods, Equity for all stakeholders, Empowered participation, Inter-disciplinarity and trans-sectorality, International and regional cooperation.  The distribution of both the costs and benefits of flood management must receive special attention since it has both ethical and legal dimensions. Equity issues arise because of national borders and jurisdictions (trans-boundary flood management), upstream and downstream riparian rights, rural and urban interests and more broadly, between those bearing the costs and those receiving the benefits. Integrated flood management must therefore promote policy processes and outcomes that strive to be fair and legitimate to all stakeholders. Since these also include future generations, flood management strategies must also promote intergenerational equity.


The Biblical account of the Great Flood and Noah’s Ark in Genesis Chapter 6-9 is the Judeo-Christian standard for flood relief.  The Lord’s heart ached from the wickedness of men and told the faithful Noah to build an Ark because he was going to bring the floodwaters to destroy all life he had already condemned to a paltry one hundred and twenty years, exactly as long as the three computer frauds evicting the author of the $20 billion oil spill settlement would not be sentenced deducting the 15 years of actual damages from the 55 year country highway, not including Google’s resurgence in mid-August nor disregarding the mother stealing fingerprint of the mano muerto on the calendar, now devil to same sex partnerships.  The Lord commanded Noah to collect two of each kind of animal and food that is to be eaten and bring it with him.  On the 600th year of Noah’s 900 year life it rained for forty days and forty nights, whereupon his family entered the ark and for forty more days the floodwaters raised the ark.  Every living thing perished. The waters flooded the earth for 150 days and then receded.  While at sea Noah sent out a raven that that flew away and then a dove that on its second weeklong flight returned with an olive branch in its beak. The ark came to rest on Mt. Ararat.  Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done” (Genesis 8:21).  


War is defined as an armed conflict in which more than 1,000 people die.  This flooding in Pakistan has taken the lives of around 1,500 people.  For insurance purposes, and also to avoid the intergenerational conflicts and high potential that Pakistani intelligence will be heard by the colonial occupying powers as a failed State, floods are generally construed as Acts of God.  Cloud seeding is however a patented human intervention that could cause the extraordinary monsoon rainfalls seen this year.  It would seem that the wicked drone bombings, Schedule I psychedelics and suicide vests so illegally distributed by the Defense Supply Center of the Defense Logistics Agency, have gone in for cloud seeding to honor the fraudulent computer scientist whose grandiose delusions to save the world could not be communicated through his sado-masochism.  Can this Act of God be sufficient to expel the international DEA offices, U.S. and N.A.T.O. military transshipment offices and warehouses and drone airfields and strikes and other non-peaceful over-flights?  The U.S. shamefully commits Acts of War on Pakistani soil frequently, and malicious U.S. involvement is more suspicious than even official Indian cloud seeders.  U.S. bombings in Pakistan seem to be triggered by intergenerational torture back home and these intelligence failures by the colonial occupying power translate into a grave threat of failed State in both Pakistan and the United States.  The U.S. really needs to forfeit all military installations and aggression to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan.  The cash strapped U.S. will save considerable funds completely terminating all DEA offices and war contracts in Pakistan.  The U.S. Treasury can recover from the billions of dollars of freely traded surplus from Afghan operations to immediately pay the outstanding $250 million, without dipping into the General Fund, for the immediate humanitarian needs of flood victims in Pakistan.




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