How much was its dollar equivalent? As we know the purchasing power of any currency is not the same as its rate in international currency. May be Pak Rupee is about Rs ten to a dollar in its local purchasing power, and not Rs 86 to one dollar. The value of indigenous help to the food victims in its dollar equivalent would run into big figures. No one should underestimate or undermine the help the Pakistanis are willing to give to our nationals in trouble Now that the end of the floods is near except in some parts of Sind; soon the flood affectees will be retuning to their homes,. the question is can we stand on our own feet on Self-help basis in meeting the cost of their rehabilitation in their own homes and reviving the economy of the devastated areas.?
It is suggested that we try late Akhter Hameed Khan’s life long experience, from 1943 to 1996, in Self Help, in rehabilitation of these victims. He devoted his life for the uplift of the down trodden. He started his mission from Rural Development in former East Pakistan and later for Kachi Abadis in Orangi in Karachi, Karachi Goths, in Sukker, Hyderabad. It is given in his 150-page book “ Orangi Pilot Project- Reminiscence & Reflections” Oxford University Press It can be used as practical manual for Self-help. particularly “ Ch 10.Low Cost Sanitation” (p 60-69) “Ch 11 Low Cost House Building” (pp 70-77), “Pilot Projects in Karachi Goths” (pp 114-120) etc His mission covered all aspects, like Health and Family Planning, establishing schools, community welfare, women work centers, micro-enterprise credit, etc.
Akhter Hameed worked on Orangi Township for 15 years. This Township, mainly katchiabadis covered 8,000 acres, with a mixed ethnic population over one million then, equal to Colombo or Gujranwala, -mainly low income and white collar workers In the filthy and dirty slums of Orangi, he developed the katchi abadis of Orangi , which finally won acclaim from UN as a model for Developing countries. Later, he was invited by Michigan State University as a visiting professor, which awarded him an honorary LL D for his Rural Development work on Self Help. Later he was awarded the Magsasay Award considered as Asia Nobel Prize , and even Pak conferred on him Hilal-e- Imtiaz in 1966.
He says: “most programs developed for the poor fail because they are designed by professionals who belong to the upper classes and are not fully conversant with the low income communities.” He also strongly opposed the idea that major functions of the state should be taken over by the NGOs supported by foreign money. He says” the seminar workshops, and meetings arranged by foreign donors for promoting the concept as ‘ dating and dinning together. His slogan at that time was “The Dewani is not for sale” referring to manner by which the East India Company took over Bengal and later Mughal Empire.
Applying his method, it is felt that first, return of as many affectees to their original homes should now begin soonest where possible, in interest of economic recovery of the villages and towns. The flood victims would themselves be keen to return to their homes soonest. If any politicians want to make publicity, they should help in reconstruction of their homes. Government should not make false promises that they will construct new houses. It is impossible for even the most affluent countries to rebuild houses on such mass scale as is being promised. Government should give money and any other help in reconstruction work that technical departments can render to them, but much of the labour work for building their houses should be undertaken by the flood affectees themselves. Perhaps most of rebuilding/repairing the demolished/devastated abodes should not take more than an year, depending on the destruction caused to the old houses.
Not all houses were totally destroyed, some were damaged, some can be repaired, some would need reconstruction.. Government can give money and other help but the affectees should themselves reconstruc/repair. Amount of Government’s monetary help should differ after a basic amount any case, say Rs 20,000 to each family. Agriculture Development Bank and other commercial banks should freely give loans to the flood affectees on special lowest rates to really deserving low income groups among affectees. No wadera from the affected area should be entitled at all to such loans. The main agent in rehabilitation should be the flood victim himself , government should give all assistance, monetary and technical, putting its civil administration and technical departments at their beck and call but not as their substitute . This will accelerate recovery and reconstruction of these areas No one is keener to end his misery than the victim of a calamity. The cost would be much less this way. He cites his own case when he strongly opposed World Bank taking over the rehabilitation work in Orangi Town. When as a promise part of the project was given to a World Bank supported foreign team, and part to him, after six years the foreign party was able ‘to develop sanitation in only thirty six lanes and all its other programs fizzled out.. During the same period and at less than one third the expense” the Orangi Project of Akhter Hameed “ had developed sanitation in over four thousand lanes covering more than 70,000 houses” and other projects in Orangi. All programs of the foreign World Bank party “fizzled out” Says the author of the Introduction “ Akhter Hameed’s approach has been vindicated and won international acclaim and became a model for others to follow”.
Akhter Hameed, an intellectual, was no doctrinarian. He says “I have always openly admired the debt of British, Gandhian, American teachers and through extensive reading the Chinese” This is necessary to state because he strongly opposed role of foreign aid. Similarly he wanted the least official involvement. He says” The role of the communities was a major deterrent to official corruption, contractor profiteering and substandard work and hence it was unpopular with the contractors and their patrons in the KMC”. He established his non-airconditioned offices in the katchiabadis.
He was an intellectual quoting Rumi and Iqbal , a brilliant student through out his education career winning top positions, did MA English, at 19 winning, University Gold Medal and joined prestigious Indian Civil Service in 1936., but after 9 years in ICS he was disgusted with the poverty of common man during the Great Bengal Famine 1942, and resigned from the Service to devote to the uplift of down trodden. He set up Rural Development Academy in Comilla (Bangla Desh) and started the Charshi , or Peasants Movement, Although Mujib pressed him to stay on in BD he moved to Karachi. He died in Karachi and through out his life he avoided publicity like poison yet he won international accolade for his social work, even of UN.