Friday, April 8, 2011

Tough road to post-flood recovery in Pakistan

Dawn (Pakistan): …On April 6, Neva Khan, country director of the UK Charity Oxfam, pointed fingers at the government, telling reporters that a delay on the part of the government to provide a reconstruction strategy [after the 2010 floods] had resulted in delays in urgent rebuilding and recovery work. In some cases this had barely started even eight months after the disaster, he said. A government official refuted that claim. “The rehabilitation phase was started some months ago,” Ahmed Kamal, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Authority, told IRIN.

A Sindh government official, who preferred anonymity, said a “desperate lack of funds” was holding up recovery in the province, but “progress was slowly being made”.

Last year, the law was changed with many functions previously conducted by the Centre, devolved to provinces. This has complicated reconstruction planning, aid workers said. For example, in many flood- hit areas in the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan, people still lack shelter. According to a survey conducted for Oxfam by the Pakistani NGO Free and Fair Election Network, 70 per cent of flood-affected people are also seeking jobs. “People want jobs, not handouts, Khan added.”

On March 31, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the floods, which affected more than 18 million people, had left behind a wave of sickness and destruction that has still to recede, even as the water dries up. An OCHA fact sheet said shelter and clean drinking water were still required. Many people were also still suffering from diseases. “In many flood-hit areas, pools of water in low-lying areas have become rubbish dumps.” “This adds to the spread of disease, and dirty water sometimes contaminates clean supplies used for drinking purposes,” Rafia Ali, a doctor, said.

“The floods have vanished off TV screens; only limited amounts of aid are reaching survivors – but the havoc caused by one of the biggest natural disasters in the country’s history continues, with no end yet in sight,” he added. That view was shared by Ibrahim Mughul, chairman of Pakistans Agriculture Council. “The agricultural losses caused by the floods were devastating, he told IRIN. Recovery will take a long time….

In this September 2010 false-colour image from NASA, vegetation is red, and bare ground and settled areas vary in colour from gray to beige. Water ranges in colour from navy blue to teal. The greenish hue of the Indus River likely results from the flooded river’s heavy sediment load. Patches of red in the river hint at the scale of flooding; these areas are farmland submerged by the swollen Indus

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