National showcasing: ‘Coordinated, systematic disaster response mechanism needed’

Published: April 3, 2012

Flood victims hit hard trying desperately to start fresh somehow somewhere.

ISLAMABAD: 

Journalists who covered the devastating flood of 2010 and 2011 have described them as humanitarian disasters and highlighted the need for a coordinated and systematic mechanism to tackle natural calamities in the future.

They shared their experiences and observations on the final day of the two-day “National Showcasing”, organised by Rozan, a non-governmental organisation, on Monday.

A total of 30 journalists, mostly from disaster-hit areas, were selected for the session to be trained on how to address narratives on disaster, focus on the structural roots of the devastation, and to build in-depth knowledge of humanitarian crises.

They said coverage of affected communities and highlighting their plights is a noble cause which should be encouraged and promoted.

The Express Tribune’s reporter Ali Usman described his experience, saying that there was an absence of coordinated efforts by government departments, international donor agencies and local communities at the time of huge disaster.

“We also see misuse and under-utilisation of aid agencies’ assistance during disasters,” he said.

Another journalist, Myra Imran, said that women, particularly pregnant ones, faced tremendous issues in relief camps where there were no basic facilities. She also referred to the violence and abuses meted out to women and children in the camps. “Clean drinking water and basic medicine were most urgent needs of the affected communities, but in most of the parts, this facility was missing,” she said.

Meanwhile, rights activist Avinsash Hari said that minority communities were often discriminated against during the distribution relief goods and in the provision of other rehabilitation assistance.

Not only this, he said, there was also discrimination within minority communities, as high caste Hindus enjoyed better assistances than the lower caste ones.

He also took note of the Urdu media’s biases in reporting on minority communities during the disaster in Sindh, where the issues being faced by Hindus were ignored.

In the last session of the event, a documentary film titled “Pani Ki Kahani” was also shown.

The film highlighted the issues facing flood-stricken communities.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2012.

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