The 2010 floods in Pakistan displaced millions and were a major setback for the national economy. They affected vast areas mainly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh and took a toll of hundreds of lives. Despite the repeated statements from the government, no practical steps were taken to tackle the possibility of future floods and the consequence of this gross negligence is that floods are yet again wrecking havoc this year.
Unlike last year, the eye of the storm this year is Sindh where flood waters have razed in numerous villages and displaced millions. According to Asian Human Rights Commission, the loss of crops due to floods in Sindh is estimated to have caused 5.6 billion rupees in damages. The extent of inundation can be gauged from the fact that out of 23 districts of Sindh, 22 have been directly or indirectly affected by the deluge.
Lamenting the utter lack of efficiency on the part of the government to tackle the situation, the Human Rights Commission article states:
It is only now that the government is examining the conditions of the bunds and embankments which are only just, if at all, holding the flood waters at bay. In the meantime hundreds ofthousands of people are trapped due to the flooding of the roads and it is the women and children who are suffering the most due to the lack of safe drinking water, milk and food. As was seen in the last catastrophe the response from the government was very slow due to the lack of a proper relief system and resources.
Like last year, a number of social initiatives have been launched to help out the displaced flood affectees. Among these efforts is the one launched by Faisal Kapadia and Dr Awab Alvi, two notable social activists and bloggers (and Global Voices authors).
Faisal, writing about the objectives of his relief efforts states on his blog:
Our plan is initially to provide them cooked meals for the next 15 days, in order to at least give them a chance of returning to their lives once the rain waters subside.
Commenting on the disaster wrecked by the floods, Faisal tells:
Vast swathes of land on either side of the road were completely inundated with water. I have been working in flood relief since 2010 and I have to say that I have not seen this much water in my entire life. The flooding is so intense, that for several stretches there is no land in sight at all. In fact, I felt like I was driving in the middle of the sea – it was terrifying and saddening at the same time.
Beena Sarwar, a notable Pakistani journalist and activist, has been actively highlighting credible relief efforts on her blog. The groups she highlighted include Pakistan Medical Association, Indus Foundation Trust and IRC. A recent post on floods details upon the updates from Khairpur, a region in Sindh,
There is no proper arrangement of medical facilities neither from Government nor from the NGOs.
There has been an outbreak of skin disease, flu, gastro and malaria
People are drinking stagnant flood water, and are demanding safe drinking water
Temporary latrines have not yet been installed and school latrines are insufficient and non-functional
Protection of most vulnerable particularly women and children also seems to be one of the major issues.
The most unfortunate part of the entire episode is that the media and Pakistani blogosphere barely seems to care about the floods, at large. Of course there are exceptions but compared to last year’s immense response, Pakistani netizens are relatively mute.
Commenting on this apathy, Tazeen, an active Pakistani blogger, says in her post titled ‘South is flooded and the rest of Pakistan does not care”:
“This year, districts in Sindh and Balochistan are affected with yet another flood but this time netiher the media nor the citizens are taking it as seriously as they did it last year…I have not seen a single camp, either in Rawalpindi or Islamabad, receiving donations and goods for flood relief efforts in Sindh and Balochistan…I find it mind numbingly cruel that parts of Sindh and Balochistan are submerged in water and the rest of Pakistan couldn’t care less. If this does not breed discontent and dissent, I would be most surprised.”
Currently, thousands of flood victims await food and relief. Women and children lie under open sky, waiting for the concerned authorities to take notice of their plight. Sadly, though, this barely seems a primary concern of the government.