Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pakistan's forgotten people

Naseer Memon has an opinion piece in Dawn (Pakistan): Recently, a report titled Pakistan flood emergency: Lessons from a continuing crisis was prepared by a collaborative group of over a dozen leading international and national humanitarian aid agencies. It is a deeply saddening reminder that some 2.5 million people affected by floods last year are still struggling to return to normal life. The miseries of these citizens are going unnoticed, having been overshadowed by the political turmoil in the country.

According to the provincial disaster management authority’s official website, no flood affectees are living in camps any more. This masks the fact that they are still in dire need of food, shelter, drinking water, sanitation facilities and medicine. Thousands remain hungry and shivering in the unprecedented cold wave. The numbers that find space on official websites do not reflect any of these very grim realities.

The hardship being suffered by those affected by the floods does not end when they evacuate the camps; in fact, they return to their places of residence with nothing with which to resume their lives. In the absence of a robust early recovery plan, those affected by disaster find themselves destitute. The social ramifications of this can be very extensive and perhaps worse than the disaster itself.

Following the floods, the official appeal for international aid was inexplicably delayed; meanwhile, the humanitarian community’s lukewarm response means that there was insufficient support for relief. The loss of 2.2 million acres of crop lands and an estimated 116,000 heads of cattle has shattered the local economy in flood-hit areas. Sowing during the Rabi season following the floods was scanty, as more than 10,000 square kilometres of land in the seven worst-hit districts remained inundated, making ploughing impossible....

A wheat farm in southern Sindh, Pakistan, outside Hyderabad, shot by Farhan, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

No comments: