Noor Israr comments upon the extremely bad situation in the country
The rainfall has become sporadic and the extent of flooding is now coming into view that is indeed horrendous. The unprecedented monsoon rains and flood destroyed more than 1.5 million houses, 63 bridges, 2,688 kilometers of roads and near half a million animals drowned in the flood water across the Sindh province, leaving over 30 million homeless and flood devastation continues.
Pakistan is grappling with food shortages after deadly floods left the impoverished country’s agriculture belt underwater. Miles of cotton and sugarcane crops, banana orchards and vegetable fields could be seen submerged in floodwaters. Thousands of mud and brick homes caved in under the deluge leaving people homeless and sheltering in tents alongside damaged roads.
More than 660,000 people, including women and children, are living at relief camps and in makeshift homes. Pakistan heavily relies on its agriculture and occasionally exports its surplus wheat to Afghanistan and other countries. Now it is in talks to import badly needed wheat and vegetables, including to people not directly affected by floods. Meanwhile, the price of vegetables and other food has started increasing.
The water has now started to flow downward increasing pressure on the delta region and it is now reported that the Manchhar Lake — one of the largest freshwater reserves in Pakistan — is still facing threats of breach of its protective dykes and other structures along its paths in an attempt to divert the flow of water towards less populated areas and prevent flooding in densely populated regions.
Big Loss In Sindh Pakistan From Flooding
The intensity of the flooding and water could be gauged by the fact that seven to eight million acre-feet of water is flooding large areas of Sindh including from Kashmore and Jacobabad to Jamshoro. It was reported that 175,000 cusecs of water was diverted to the Indus River through cuts made in order to prevent several towns and villages from inundation.
Floods from record monsoon rains and glacial melt in the mountainous north have affected 33 million people and killed almost 1,400, washing away homes, roads, railways, livestock and crops, in damages estimated at $30 billion. Both the government and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres have blamed climate change for the extreme weather that led to the flooding, which submerged nearly a third of the country.
The government had already announced aid of Rs.70 billion with Rs.25,000 being distributed per house affected by floods and it was lately reported that so far Rs.24 billion have been reported. The authorities are trying to ensure availability of drinking water and life-saving medicines on a priority basis along with increasing the drainage of stagnant water and start the process of rehabilitation.
After the abatement of rainfall, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has advised authorities to stay alert and ensure the timely evacuation of at-risk populations in light of the Flood Forecasting Division (FFD) warning of an increase in flows in Rivers Sutlej, Ravi and Chenab and their associated tributaries and nullahs in Sindh and Punjab.
Flood Devastation Continues In Pakistan
It stated that it has marked a defined and well-marked low-pressure area over the central parts of Madhya Pradesh in India and forecast that this weather system might affect the upper catchments of eastern rivers — Sutlej, Ravi and Chenab. During this period the flow of water was expected to increase in the three rivers and their tributaries and nullahs.
NDMA has advised issuing warnings to at-risk communities about the possible increase in the flows of water and maintain an enhanced alert level while monitoring the developing situation to reduce reaction and response times. The authorities were also asked to pre-place rescue teams and equipment for rapid deployment in vulnerable areas, sensitise people living along the banks of the three rivers about the expected increase in water flows and timely evacuate the at-risk population from low-lying and flood-prone areas in line with evacuation plans and the availability of space, food and medicines at shelter camps.
It was also mentioned that in case of any eventuality, a special situation report or updates should be immediately shared with the NDMA. On an encouraging side, the international community has continued to lend a helping hand to Pakistan in the wake of floods of epic proportions that have pulverised the country. In this context, Canada, Ireland, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the United States have become the latest states to provide monetary and material support to flood-hit Pakistan as part of the global response against flooding in the country.
Flood Devastation Continues In Pakistan
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced an additional $30 million in life-saving humanitarian assistance to support people and communities affected by severe flooding. The United States also provided over $1.1 million in grant and project support earlier this month to ensure direct assistance reached the communities most impacted and to help mitigate and prevent the effects of future floods.
The US embassy in Islamabad said that in response to the Pakistan government’s request for assistance, the US will prioritise urgently needed food support, safe water, sanitation and hygiene improvements, financial help, and shelter assistance. Meanwhile, Canada announced $5 million in funding for humanitarian assistance to support Pakistan.
Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that his country will continue to provide food, clean water and other essential services through trusted partners and will help scale up the humanitarian response to provide critical emergency assistance, including food and cash assistance. On 19 August, Canada contributed to the initial funding of $3 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, which will be used for health, nutrition, food security and water and sanitation services in flood-affected areas.
Similarly, the Australian government announced $2 million in urgent humanitarian assistance and said that the support will be delivered through the World Food Programme to assist Pakistan and its people in responding to immediate humanitarian needs, particularly women, children and vulnerable communities.
Flood Devastation Continues In Pakistan
Furthermore, Qatar has provided the first batch of urgent aid to Pakistan which contained 21,000 food baskets, 5,000 tents, and 5,000 personal hygiene kits aiming to benefit 35,000 individuals. Ireland announced an initial commitment of 500,000 euros of Irish Aid support to Pakistan. The funds will be allocated to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Concern Worldwide.
The IFRC through their local partner will provide emergency shelter, unconditional cash grants to the worst affected and primary healthcare with a specific focus on the special health needs of women and children. A first flight from the UAE carrying relief items landed in Rawalpindi including food items, medical supplies and tents for the flood victims.
Another flight carrying assistance was also expected to land in Rawalpindi soon. It is also reported that the U.N. agencies and various countries have sent more than 60 planeloads of aid. Washington days ago set up a humanitarian air bridge to flood-ravaged Pakistan to deliver aid through 20 flights, which will arrive in Pakistan and the authorities will be asked to distribute cash among needy people.
Last week, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a visit to Pakistan traveled to flood-hit areas, where flood devastation continues and still causes damage. Guterres has called on the world to stop “sleepwalking” through the dangerous environmental crisis. The Weekender