What Boston is building to fight flood and How Pakistan can learn from it
The American city, Boston is building a waterfront park to absorb floods. (Source: Pew Trust)
Until recently, Boston was planning a 6km sea wall, costing 12 billion dollars to protect against rising waters of more than 50 cm by 2050 but after the scientists warned the wall wouldn’t give long term protection, (Source: University of Massachusetts-Boston) The city is now building 67 acres of Waterfront Park instead. Incredible, right?
Waterfront Parks are designed to be flooded without being damaged. They capture, store and use flood water to reduce the harm that flood causes, whereas in dry seasons, they provide green space for people to enjoy and offer habitats and breeding grounds for wildlife.
Climate change is causing oceans to warm, which expands water and melts ice sheets which results sea levels to rise 0.3 cm every year (Source: NASA). If global warming reaches 3 degree Centigrade, more than 275 million people live in areas that will be flooded (Source: Climate Central)
“We’re not just planning for the next storm we’ll face, we’re planning for the storms the next generation will face,” said Boston’s Mayor Walsh. “A resilient, climate-ready Boston Harbor presents an opportunity to protect Boston, connect Boston, and enhance Boston, now and for the future. As we enter a new era in our Harbor’s history, Boston can show the world that resilience is not only the ability to survive adversity, but to emerge even stronger than before. That’s the promise of a Resilient Boston.”
How Pakistan can learn from Boston in fighting floods
Now if we talk about Pakistan, it is safe to say that it has its own history of dealing with flood catastrophe. An estimated 715,000 people in Pakistan are affected by floods each year resulting an annual loss of almost 1 per cent to the country’s GDP, which translates into US$2.7 billion. (Source: Dawn). And as fast as the climate change is happening, about 2.7 million people could be affected annually by river-floods in Pakistan by 2030. (Source: World Resources Institute).
The floods takes away everything from the people; their shelter, agriculture, animals and livestock, thus making them completely miserable. It takes few minutes for it to sweep away everything but it takes ages to bring the area and the people back to their life.
Unfortunately, Pakistan doesn’t have enough precautionary measures to fight and control flood.
So how can we learn from Boston? Since Boston has planned to build a waterfront park. We could also find something similar to it, if not a waterfront park, since for that it would require a massive amount of investment. One of the best solutions is plantation. Which means to build a man-made forest, some trees like Eucalyptus and Mangroves have proved to be very beneficial, they are helpful because they naturally protect us from floods, like Tsunamis and tidal waves.
Eucalyptus has some amazing properties, it is not only a very fast growing tree but is also a natural insecticide. It is also known as thirsty tree. Its roots spread deep underground and dry up all the water so it is also used to drain swamps and marshes, and the mangroves forests have the similar kind of amazing properties. This is why these two are the best plants that could help us a little in controlling and preventing the excessive damage that the flood brings. What we could do is that we could plant them near rivers, canals and dams.
Other than plantation, dams could help us in this as well. They store excessive water. The government is working on building Mohmand Hydropower Dam, which will generate 800megawatt electricity besides water storage capacity of over 1.2million acres feet which will directly benefit people of Charsadda, Mohmand and adjoining areas of Khyber Pakthunkhwa.
Mohmand Dam is being constructed on River Swat about 48 kilometres from Peshawar at confluence of Mohmand and Charsadda district and the dam’s reservoir area extends upstream to Mohmand, Bajaur and other northern districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The project will supply 13.32 million cubic meter water to Peshawar City for drinking purposes. The dam will also address the long awaited problem of water scarcity in Mohmand district and will save Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshera and other districts from floods in future.
The project is scheduled to be completed in five years with an estimated cost of 309 billion rupees. We only hope that this could be a turning point for Pakistan in handling the flood catastrophes.
If we dig in deep into the analysis and research, we could find many more ways to resolve this issue. But just like Boston, we could also work on landscaping or growing a forest because nature indeed has a lot of amazing benefits that we can only imagine.
However, a strong strategy must be developed by the government and associated bodies to ensure that Pakistan is better prepared for future disasters.
How does your city manage water? It’s about time we figure out ways to fight against flood just like Boston is preparing itself for the future.