Badin situation: Fehmida pleads for WFP help

The speaker slams disaster management authorities for not doing their job.

Z Ali August 18, 2011


Badin has pinned its hopes on the World Food Programme (WFP) to avoid starvation.

The district administration will look to the international organisation to arrange for food for the rain-affected people as it flounders in the disaster.

Sources told The Express Tribune that the request was sent through National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza on Thursday.

Although the government has not yet collected accurate figures for the number of people displaced or losses to the crops and property, official estimates suggest over 85% of 1.8 million people have been affected.

“Every day we are increasing the number of relief camps,” Mirza told The Express Tribune. “Today the count has grown to 270 camps where around 71,000 displaced people are taking shelter.”

The speaker candidly acknowledged the lack of facilities such as food, water, health and hygiene at camps. “There are many more (IDPs) living under the open sky on roads. The district government doesn’t have the resources to fend for itself.”

She held the national and provincial disaster management authorities responsible. “They have failed to take up their responsibility,” she said vehemently.

The giant leaky drain

“People should take the matter of the faulty design of the Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD) and the fallout of the project to the courts,” replied Mirza when asked why the government has not sought compensation from the World Bank for damage. They had admitted flaws in the design of the LBOD.

The speaker also criticised the federal government’s approach towards the drain or, as she puts it, ‘a perpetual nuisance’ for residents.

The LBOD has sprouted leaks at at least four points within Badin’s boundaries. The artificial drain carries saline water and sewerage from Sindh and parts of Punjab towards the sea, and has flooded scores of villages. “As the Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority, Sindh Irrigation Department and Wapda slog it out over who  bears responsibility for fixing LBOD, the drain is making the people of Badin and adjoining districts miserable,” she remarked.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2011.