With the floods cutting a swathe of destruction through the riverbed areas in Sindh, the former provincial adviser on relief says that an overwhelming majority of the affected people have been left in the lurch.
Quoting the figures of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Haleem Adil Shaikh said at least 95 per cent of the affected people have remained largely unattended.
“According to the NDMA, over 720,000 people have been affected but the relief camps are housing only about 22,000 people in the four districts of upper Sindh,” said Shaikh, who heads the non-profit Pakistan Relief Foundation, told a press conference on Sunday. The riverine flooding started in the province in mid-August. The NDMA has recorded 35 rain and flood-related deaths in the province since then. At least 16 people died in Karachi, six in Hyderabad, three each in Sukkur and Larkana, two in Khairpur, one each in Mirpurkhas, Ghotki, Thatta, Umerkot and Kashmore Kandhkot districts.
Shaikh said that a large number of the displaced people were staying on the river embankments and were, therefore, exposed to health hazards and destitution. “The NDMA has counted some 22,000 damaged houses including 8,000 completely destroyed homes. Standing crops on more than 200,000 acres have also been ruined. But, despite this huge destruction and displacement the relief efforts are extremely inadequate.”
He said he visited all the flood-hit districts and spoke to people about their needs. According to him, there is a need to provide ration, tents, mosquito nets and vaccinations of anti-snake venom and anti-scabies at the local health units and mobile health teams in these areas.
“In just ten day till August 22, malaria cases have risen to over 35 per cent, acute respiratory infection and scabies to over 25 per cent and gastroenteritis to over 10 per cent among the affected people,” he said, quoting the NDMA’s estimates.
Shaikh also pointed out that at least seven canals and saline water channels were vulnerable to breaches which will lead to flooding in the adjoining areas. These include Dhoro Puran, Main Nala Umerkot, Ghotki Feeder, Rotri, Jamrahu, Thar and Mithrahu canals.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2013.