The adviser to the chief minister on relief, Haleem Adil Sheikh, has once again showered criticism on the government departments as well as international humanitarian organisations for not doing enough for residents of flood-hit areas.
At a press conference on Saturday he shared statistics about the impact of the flood and urged relief organisations to step up. More than three months after the floods ravaged seven districts of Sindh, over 141,000 people are still homeless and seek shelter at relief camps.
At least 44 union councils in Dadu, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Qamber Shahdadkot and Shikarpur are still inundated. The floods affected 11,800 villages where over 3.1 million people live. It also mangled crops spread over 245,459 acres of land. Sheikh, however, believes that the actual loss to the agriculture sector was much higher. He added that 283 people have died so far in flood-related incidents. The families of 141 people killed in such incidents have been paid a total of Rs42.3 million.
He then castigated various governmental as well as relief organisations for not monitoring the situation on-the-ground and responding effectively. “The province’s agriculture department doesn’t even know the exact amount of loss sustained by the sector,” said Shaikh, as he criticised their performance.
He also hit hard on the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), saying it did not play “an important role during the recent floods and just acted as a supply depot. It was not even visible in the field.” Shaikh pointed out the absence of a national disaster management policy despite three consecutive years of flooding and called for giving greater authority and responsibility to the provincial relief department.
Shaikh was also critical of the role of foreign humanitarian organisations and supported the federal government’s stricter checks on their activities in the calamity hit areas. He added that the relief agencies should not be used for espionage and stick to helping people out. According to the adviser, people in the relief camps now need a plethora of items, including blankets, mattresses, mosquito nets and repellants to survive the winter.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2012.