ISLAMABAD: Despite weather forecasts indicating a gradual spell of rain through south-western Punjab, north-eastern Balochistan, and the adjoining areas of Sindh, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) insists that it is prepared to deal with the upcoming challenges and does not require the assistance of the international community.
“We are coordinating with the UN and holding consultations but at the same time, Pakistan has to learn from the 2010 floods and work on the issues that were brought up last year,” said NDMA Chairman Zafar Iqbal Qadir.
Qadir insisted Pakistan was sufficiently equipped and well prepared and there were enough resources to manage the floods this year.
The chairman said that although the role of the international community had been commendable, at the same time there was no documentation of the spending presented to the government.
A total of $1.9 billion were pledged by the international community for the 2010 floods and a total of $1.3 billion was released – 67 per cent of the total amount pledged.
Funds were sent directly to donors and the government did not have any check on the expenditures. Six months on, the international community has still not been able to justify their 2010 flood money spending.
Only a total of $400 million have been documented and the rest still remains unexplained, the chairman said.
“Pakistan has the right to know [where the money was spent],” he said.
Qadir added that for better planning and management of the upcoming catastrophe, a contingency plan had been prepared. The plan was to manage the disaster, evaluate and assess upcoming challenges, effectively plan in advance and not repeat last year’s mistakes.
“We should not completely rely on the international community when we do have the capacity to manage on our own,” the chairman said.
He said that they possessed rations for 50,000 people; however, the need is to cater to around two million people.
“Ration shortage is not there. We have sufficient stock,” he insisted. According to the UN flood update, River Sutlej is likely to enter into a medium flood in Kasur district in Punjab. Reports indicate that water reservoirs on Beas and Sutlej (in India) have reached optimum storage levels and with the ongoing rains, more water releases into Sutlej are likely. The PDMA Punjab has been quoted as indicating that the flood levels in River Sutlej indicate highest recorded water volumes over the last 15 years: nearly 80,000 cusecs. Flood impact in the Kasur district has caused villages to be inundated and has resulted in crop losses. More than six dozen houses have reportedly been damaged — leaving hundreds homeless.
In Sindh, a fresh breach was reported in Mirwah canal in Badin. Lack of sustained access to the cut-off populations and vulnerability to onset of epidemics are consistently reported.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2011.