Floods: Nature’s wrath or human negligence | By Rashid A Mughal


Floods: Nature’s wrath or human negligence

PAKISTAN’S 40% landmass is under water due to total mismanagement, apathy, insouciance, lassitude, lethargy and in-difference of the administration after the unprecedented rains.

There was no proper coordination among the relief agencies, resulting in mounting problems of those affected and uprooted from their homes due to nature’s fury in the shape of incessant rains.

The sufferings of those affected have multiplied due to negligence, lack of proper planning, readiness and lack of resources too.

But it all boils down to inefficient government machinery and will to meet the challenge coupled with proper roadmap to face the disaster.

Pakistan experienced a massive flood considered the worst in history: more than 1,500 people have died, and over 33 million have been displaced.

The floods began in June 2022 and continued through August 2022, impacting a growing number of communities.

Due to heavy rainfall and landslides, roads have been swept away, bridges have collapsed and houses are surrounded by floodwater, making evacuation more difficult.

Crops and livestock are devastated, leading to food shortages and increased prices of basic needs.

Community-based water sources are heavily contaminated. More than 200,000 houses are destroyed and many more damaged.

The Government appealed for international support and is collaborating with UN and international agencies to deliver aid.

Many countries, notably Turkey, China, the UAE and EU and International Agencies have acted promptly and rushed food and items of daily use for the aid of the victims.

Current needs identified are basic food, staples, nutritional supplements for children, clean drinking water, hygiene and sanitation kits, medicines, temporary healthcare facilities, blankets, tarpaulins and emergency shelters.

Longer-term needs include education support kits, psychosocial and healthcare support, livelihood, rebuilding and disaster mitigation activities.

National (mostly private welfare organizations) and international response has been quick and timely.

The Citizens Foundation (UK) has delivered 608,930 meals across 37 locations including Badin, Tando Muhammad Khan, Mirpurkhas, Shaheed Benazirabad, Khairpur and Qambar, Shahdadkot.

Thousands more meals are en route. There are currently 21 TCF schools which are providing shelter to 4,300+ people (470+ families).

The Citizens Foundation (TCF) is providing emergency relief of five million meals to families who have lost all means of sustaining themselves, helping to reconstruct homes for 9,000 families once the flood waters recede, rehabilitating TCF schools damaged by the floods.

Institute for Development Studies and Practices Pakistan (IDSP) focuses on Balochistan, the poorest, isolated and socio-economically vulnerable Province of Pakistan.

Many casualties and injuries have been recorded within the province. Community-based water sources are heavily contaminated and mud houses are washed away or heavily damaged.

School toilets are also destroyed. IDSP’s university of community development (UCD) fellows have a network across Balochistan that can help support relief and recovery work.

They have identified following items, most needed: Food provisions and clean water, medical camps to control diarrhea, water and sanitation-related diseases, rehabilitate water sources, repairing damaged homes, tents, replacement of lost livestock: chicken, sheep and goats, mats to sit on, repairing of toilets (which is the eminent cause of spreading of the diseases), health and hygiene kits and related supplies for women, transport cost for taking sick, injured, pregnant, emergency patients to hospitals.

Besides, several other organizations — local and foreign — are providing help in these trying times.

Give2Asia, an Hong Kong based organization, is working with local non-profits organisations throughout the country that are certified by the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP).

Another local organization, Akhuwat, supports emergency relief through two phases. During the First Phase, Akhuwat provided cash support of Rs 4,000 per family, ration bags, food/meal distribution and medical camps in affected areas.

For the second phase (rehabilitation), Akhuwat will provide interest-free loans of up to Rs 150,000 for up to 5 years for rebuilding homes.

On 25 August, Pakistan declared a state of emergency because of the flooding. By 29 August, around “one-third” of the country was under water, affecting 33 million people.

The government has estimated losses worth US$40 billion from the flooding. 1,569 people died, including 555 children, and an additional 12,860 were injured 546,288 people are living in temporary camps because of the floods.

These are the deadliest floods in Pakistan since 2010, when nearly 2,000 died in flooding and the deadliest in world since the 2017 South Asian flood.

Losses are worth US$40 billion from the flooding. The government said on 29 August that “one-third of the country was under water and there was “no dry land to pump the water out”, adding that it was a “crisis of unimaginable proportions”.

Agricultural fields were also devastated by the water. At the request of the Balochistan Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), a multi-sectoral rapid needs assessment was undertaken in 10 districts of Baluchistan to identify priority needs and gaps across sectors.

Humanitarian partners are supporting the government-led response in affected areas, redirecting existing resources to meet the most urgent needs while working to further scale up the response.

In September 2022, government officials estimated at least $40 billion of reconstruction costs and economic damage, equivalent to about 10% of GDP.

The UNDP, World Bank and Asian Development Bank are expected to complete an assessment of flood damage and reconstruction costs by October 2022.

Floods in Sindh killed 701 people and injured 8,422. Among the 293 children killed were three who died when the roof of their house collapsed in Kandhkot.

10 million people have been displaced in Sindh and 57,496 houses were severely damaged or completely destroyed, mostly in the Hyderabad Division, and 830 cattle were killed.

6,200 km (1,540,000 acres) of farmland have been swept away by the floods. In the Dadu District alone, floodwater submerged 300 villages.

The Sindh provincial government confirmed on 16 September 2022 588 cases of malaria, with a further 10,604 suspected cases, as well as 17,977 cases of diarrhea, and 20,064 of skin disease.

Since 1 July, a total of 2,300,000 patients have been treated for malaria in field and mobile hospitals. A high of 90,000 cases of diarrhea were reported in a single day on 1 September.

—The writer is Former Civil Servant & Consultant: ILO and IOM. The writer also contributes to Migration Policy Institute, Washington and Migration Source, Europe, presently living in US.


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