Monday, July 25, 2011

Swat rebuilds in vulnerable areas year after Pakistan floods

Terra Daily via AFP: A year after floods swept away homes and livelihoods, Pakistani survivors of a Taliban uprising are courting fresh disaster in the picturesque Swat valley by refusing to leave for higher ground.

...There were 45 houses in Ariana before Pakistan's worst floods left 20 percent of the country underwater last summer, affecting 21 million people. But in less than 24 hours, only two remained, at the back of the village furthest from the water, those owned by [Shujat] Ali and his family.

Officials say 150 people died in the Swat valley with 3,000 homes destroyed and 200,000 residents displaced in a mountainous area already struggling to rebuild after a two-year Taliban insurgency. District commissioner Kamran Rehman Khan is upbeat, telling AFP from the comfort of his office in Mingora, 250 kilometres (156 miles) northwest of Islamabad, that reconstruction work is on track. "Except in the (northern) Kalam area, where we have to rebuild a solid road and put back city power, there are no more big problems. All the work should be finished in six months or a year," he said.

...The 51-year-old [Mohammad Siddiq] knows the authorities warned him to build further away from the river but, like other survivors, he is ignoring the advice. "I know it's dangerous, but I don't have any other alternative," said the father-of-seven. Pakistanis in Swat said they preferred to stay put, protected by the army and with tourists returning, rather than live an uncertain exile in the suburbs of big cities, congested and crime ridden....

In August 2010, an aerial view showing flood waters have washed away all ground means to reach the people stranded in the northern areas of the Swat Valley, Pakistan

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