Floods 2012: Three months on, victims await government aid
By: Zahid Gishkori
ISLAMABAD: Three months on, most of the five million people affected by the monsoon floods this year are waiting for financial assistance from the government. Many of them lost family members, crops, homes and cattle.
The monsoon season’s devastating after-effects damaged crops over 1.2 million acres of farmland. Over 571 people lost their lives, and almost 3,000 were injured in flood-related incidents, according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). Over 210,000 people are still living in relief camps in Balochistan and Sindh.
The heavy rains also destroyed the canal system in the two provinces. Close to 0.7 million houses were damaged across the country, and over 12,000 cattle-heads perished. To handle rehabilitation efforts, 47,300 shelters were set up for 4.9 million flood victims who survived the natural disaster but lost everything else. Sindh was the worst-hit, where over 3.2 million people were affected by the rains.
Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had earlier announced around Rs4 billion for Sindh and Balochistan’s disaster management needs – but the provincial administrations complained that the amount was not adequate to compensate for the massive financial losses they suffered.
According to Federal Minister for Science and Technology Mir Changez Khan Jamali, over 70,000 people are still “living on the streets” in Jaffarabad and Nasirabad districts of Balochistan. Jamali, who is currently on a visit to these areas pointed out that flood victims are yet to receive financial assistance for rebuilding their houses. He expressed hope, however, that these issues would be addressed quickly and adequately.
Those residing in shelters are only a fraction of the 0.8 million people hit by the monsoon floods in Balochistan. Many have complained of the lack of financial assistance from the NDMA as well as the federal government.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) MNA Gul Muhammad Jakhrani pointed out, meanwhile, that the rehabilitation process in Sindh, particularly in Jacobabad district, was particularly slow due to scarcity of funds. Almost 141,000 flood victims in Sindh are still living in relief camps. Most of these are in Jacobabad, Kashmore, Hyderabad, Badin and Thatta districts.
Jakhrani also stressed the need for chalking out a strategy for coping with natural disasters, particularly floods because “they hit Sindh hard every year.” He added that the provincial government should release more funds for flood relief efforts.
NDMA Chairman Dr Zafar Iqbal Qadir said that this year was the first time, despite several offers, that Pakistan did not accept any financial aid from international donors. “The NDMA spent funds worth Rs800 million in flood hit-areas,” he told The Express Tribune. The NDMA provided 255, 495 rations packs through the Utility Store Corporation. Qadir said the authority had proved this year that it is capable of dealing with disasters like floods. He did not, however, elaborate on his plans to deal with the consequences of such national disasters in the future.