Civil society calls for efforts to provide relief to flood-affected people

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Civil society activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and volunteers at a Webinar organised by The Knowledge Forum on the flood situation in Sindh spoke of extreme chaos as Sindh grapples with one of the worst floods in its history.

Speakers were unanimous that current figures quoted in the official data do not represent the accurate picture of devastation on the ground.

The activists were speaking at an online Zoom webinar “Assessing Provincial Picture of Flooding in Pakistan – Dispatches from Sindh” on Monday.

Dr. Sono Khangharani, a development expert, Ms. Radha Bheel, a Member of Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network, Mr. Akram Khaskheli, President of Hari Welfare Association, and Mr. Jan Odhano from Community Development Foundation were the speakers at the panel.

Other speakers included Dr. Riaz Shaikh, Dean Faculty of Social Sciences, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST), Ms. Uzma Noorani of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, senior journalist Shahzeb Jilani, Muhammad Yaqoob of Takhliq Foundation, Yasir Hussain from Darya Lab and others.

“The situation in most of the areas is very serious as a large number of people have been affected due to prolonged rains and floods,” said speakers.

Due to the destruction of infrastructure and roads and railway networks access to many affected areas was difficult and a large portion of the affected population is devoid of relief, one of the speakers said.

Dr. Somo Khangharani said that it is premature to determine the extent of the losses due to the flood.

Even though in some districts there were fewer showers of rain as compared to rains in 2011, the damages were much more because there were continuous rains in those districts which damaged almost all katcha houses.

According to him, people were already poor but this natural calamity had affected their economic situation. he also added that People in rural areas were selling their livestock at throw-away prices to get some cash.

 

Jan Odhano from Qambar-Shahdadkot district pointed out that his district was the worst affected area as it is receiving rainwater floods from three sides of Balochistan and South Punjab.

Rain waters from the hills of Balochistan, Katchi Canal, Patfeeder canal, and riverine from Koh-e-Suleman were directly hitting Shahdadkot areas, whereas a saline water drain Hairdeen had inundated most of the areas.

Akram Khaskheli from Nawabshah district said Nawabshad, Sanghar, and Naushehro Feroz districts are affected due to breaches in the Left Bank Outfall Drain (LOBD), which is a major drainage canal on the left side of the Indus.

According to him, agriculture of the entire province has been destroyed and there is fear of food shortage as all crops of vegetables reportedly damaged.

He said besides agriculture, livestock had also suffered as a large number of animals had died or drowned,

Ms. Radha Bheel said the lower caste minority population which was mostly associated with agriculture suffered huge economic losses.

Zulfiqar Shah, a member of the Sindh Human Rights Commission pointed out that the actual disaster would unfold once the water receded. There will be food shortage and hunger all over the country, he feared.

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