Surviving the floods: The winter of Badin’s discontent

Published: December 28, 2011

The cold is not only affecting the health of the people but is also taking a toll on their outlook towards life. The residents fear that the harsh conditions will erode their cultural values. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: 

As the year ends, the cold weather in Badin, the worst-hit district by this year’s floods, has compounded the miseries of those who have already lost sources of livelihood, houses, livestock and have little food provided by the government or any non-governmental organisation (NGO). In the makeshift tents by the side of the roads, Badin’s residents have to spend their nights hearing their children cry because of the bitter cold.

Torrential rain started in the second week of August, yet months later, hundreds of villages are still inundated. There appears to be a lack of a proper strategy to bring life back to normal, especially in Badin and Tando Bago.

Conditions are dire in Union Council (UC) Khairpur Gambo where around 100 villages out of 225 are still under water. Malkani Sharif, a small town with a population of about 10,000 souls, is a prime example of the poor management of the disaster. “There are 11 Muhallahs in this town but five of them are still inundated. Sixty percent of houses are damaged and we were given just 80 tents. It is abnormal cold in the area this year. Our senior citizens and children need warm clothes, including blankets. No one sees the poor people shivering,” said Younis Malkani.

While hundreds descended on Badin after the floods, Malkani questions where they have all disappeared to. “We predicted that the weather would be unbearable. They chuckled at us and said we were talking in an unreasonable manner. They should come and spend a day and night with us and estimate how we are surviving.”

Villager Haji Ali Nawaz Malkani said that the weather was taking a physical and mental toll. “We don’t have scientific instruments to measure the intensity of the cold but it is dead cold. If the government cannot provide us basic needs, they should at least take steps to remove the stagnant water. Our children are forced to face such weather. You can just feel the cold for a day or so but can’t stay here for more time,” he elaborated.

“We used to arrange meetings (mach katchehris) during the winter where all villagers assembled around a fire and discussed issues, shared experiences, narrated myths and stories and recited poetry. But those days are gone. I fear that economic conditions and displacement will erode our cultural values.”

Dr Mumtaz Khwaja, a senior medical officer at the Rural Health Centre, Pangrio, told The Express Tribune that the volume of regular patients had dropped. “Several villagers have moved to other places due to floodwater in their villages or some have shifted to other towns of the district permanently. We have not received any serious diseases in these days. Patients with respiratory complaints or normal fever and cold are usual,” he said.

It isn’t surprising that people have moved away permanently. In areas located near the Left Bank Outfall Drain, including Saman Sarkar, Shadi Larj, Dehi, Mithi-III, Baloch Chak, Navy Chak and villages in UC Pangrio, the colour of water has changed to green or yellow with the inflow of toxic chemicals.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2011.

Reader Comments (8)

  • Sajida
    Dec 28, 2011 - 6:39AM

    Shouldn’t those Sindh nationalists get active. They seem to care about Karachi;but not about conditions in interior.

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  • Sindhvoice
    Dec 28, 2011 - 3:46PM

    @Sajida:
    Karachi is heart of Sindh, that’s why we DO CARE it.Why only nationalists to blame for looking after flood victims?? PPP and MQM are in power and it’s their prime responsibility to deliver and help flood victims to rehabilitate.If they wont deliver, they should be held accountable because they are in authority now.

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  • Ishrat Salim
    Dec 28, 2011 - 6:20PM

    Though it is very heartwrenching to see our brothers / sisters in this condition…it is our duty to extend help in whatever way possible.Having said that it is the prime responsibility of the govt & the elected representatives of these affected areas to assist these poor people…where are they ( Zulfiqar Mirza, Ms Fehmida Mirza etc; for instance )…why are they not taking care of them who belong to their constituencies at this time of need ??….they will come to them only when they need their votes during election time….any another additional assistance from others will be of great help though.Let the PM / President & all the ministers volunteer their salary & reduce their expenses & divert it for these poor people & set an example for others to follow…will they do that….??Recommend

  • Tamaaz Khan
    Dec 28, 2011 - 9:22PM

    @sindhvoice

    Tell me this:

    Why is it that the average Sindhi living in the majority Sindhi-speaking interior has higher instances of poverty and lack of education even though the administration is controlled by Sindhi-speakers.

    Why is the average Sindhi living in the majority non-Sindhi-speaking Karachi has better prospects and higher education even though the administration is controlled by non-Sindhi-speakers.

    Instead of developing Nawabshah, Badin, and other cities in the interior all the nationalists care about is eating a piece of Karachi.

    -

    Tell me why wouldn’t the average Sindhi-speaking person from the interior appreciate a local government?

    Wouldn’t that increase the influence of the nationalists? Give them a chance to show their ability in serving the people and providing BADLY needed municipal service.

    Or is the only issue MQM and Karachi?

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  • Sindhvoice
    Dec 28, 2011 - 10:12PM

    @Tamaaz Khan:

    You said “eating out of SIndh”.If we Sindhis have such a negative and narrow approach, we have NEVER welcomed any immigrants to settle here and prosper. Like any other metropolis Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi has advantages of better education and opportunity. Secondly Karachi is capital of Sindh, Mind it. and hence no one has right to discourage the sons of soil of their due rights over their land and resources.We have complete RIGHT over Karachi.I have also few questions, when in interior Hyd, Sukkur, and even Mirpurkhas, Urdu speaking can live side by side with Sindhis without any hatred as brothers than why cant Sindhis be allowed to live and prosper in Karachi. Why Karachi is full of violence and terrorism and who runs extornism etc.

    Pls come out of narrow approach and let’s respect each other and live together as brothers.

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  • Sindhvoice
    Dec 28, 2011 - 10:24PM

    We sindhis have no problem with Local body system, let me make it clear it you but we have serious reservations on Mushraf’s Local body because we believe it was an engineered system brought by Mushraf in order to weaken the provincial autonomy and discourage people to come and settle to their own land-Karachi.
    No one will accept any system which takes away the land which belong to us.We can live together side by side as Sindhi, Pakistani and brothers but people of Sindh will NEVER accept any system which denies them of basic authority over their historical land.Recommend

  • Dec 29, 2011 - 6:52PM

    A very nice and thought provoking effort by Sameer Mandhro is really appreciated by the reader. He has tried to cover a vast flood hit and yet troubled area of Sindh to open eyes of the concerned authorities for rendering more and needful relief to the affected people. I pray for the story writer and appreciate his great effort for getting help for those who are facing a real hard time o9f their lives.

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  • Tamaaz Khan
    Dec 29, 2011 - 9:03PM

    @sindhvoice

    I’m sorry, but the average Sindhi-speaking person is MUCH better of in Karachi than in the interior.
    Sindhi-speaking people have to deal with much worse levels of public service in the interior, just see the example of Badin where the minister in charge who is off in London “speaking for Karachi”.

    Sindhi-speaking all the rights of resources of what they own and have created, they cannot usurp the rights of others.

    -
    I agree with you that we should all live together, and I think the nationalists have a LARGE role to play. But the focusing on the fact that Karachi is now inhabited mainly by non-Sindhi speaking and opposition to devolution of power to local goverments is anti-progress.

    I would like to see more Karachis in Sindh. Instead of trying to eat a peice of Karachi we should all be looking to create mordern cities out of cities in the interior.

    -
    Local governments dilute provincial autonomy by giving local autonomy.

    Why should a official sitting in Karachi set policies for Tando Adam or Sukkur, shouldn’t the locals from those areas (predominantly Sindhi-speaking) have the deciding voice on how their locality should be run?

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