The main reason behind the government’s delayed response to the flood crisis is a severe lack of coordination between the provincial and national management authorities.
“We have limited resources to combat natural disasters, and somehow it is the lack of coordination between the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) that is acting as a key hurdle behind providing relief goods to the flood victims,” the NDMA chairman Dr Zafar Iqbal Qadir said.
“The PDMA refused to receive relief goods from the NDMA store located in Karachi on September 1,” Qadir revealed on Tuesday during a special meeting of a Senate Panel, adding: “The PDMA’s refusal came at a time when the floods were destroying millions of acres of crops.”
“We later approached the district management authorities directly for the distribution of relief goods. However, the provincial government intervened,” he said. “After the 18th amendment, this matter falls directly under its domain.”
During his meeting with the NDMA chairman, Director General PDMA Muhammad Sualeh Faruqui also said there was reluctance on the provincial government’s part to provide relief goods to flood victims in Sindh. However, he refrained from taking any names.
Qadir said that a disaster response force is yet to be constituted under section 27 of the existing laws, despite repeated requests made to the federal government. He also informed the committee that the NDMA was in contact with Japan to import equipment used for preventive measures against the natural disaster.
“The NDMA has done nothing for the flood victims,” Senate Chairman Farooq H Naek responded. “We have raised Rs15 million for the flood victims and the NDMA officials should ensure a fair distribution of relief goods,” he added.
Surviving the floods, contracting a disease
Eleven persons, including seven children, died as a result of diseases such as gastroenteritis and in incidents of drowning in the flood-affected areas of Sindh. Though the water in these areas has started receding, diseases are spreading.
Rapid Response Plan for Pakistan Floods 2011
Of the $357 million appeal made for UN agencies’ and NGOs’ operations in the country’s flood-affected areas, $174 million is required for food security.
The World Food Programme (WFP), after receiving a green light from the Pakistan government, immediately began its operations. Officials in the UN have said that donations are urgently required.
The WFP is addressing the immediate needs in the first five priority districts of Badin, Mirpurkhas, Nawabshah, Sanghar and Tharparkar by drawing upon the existing food stock in the country.
So far, the WFP has provided life-saving rations to some 80,000 flood-affected people and aims to reach 500,000 people by the end of this month.
President spends the day monitoring flood efforts
President Asif Ali Zardari formally launched a special control room in Bilawal House on Monday to monitor flood relief activities. The president spent hours “monitoring the flood monitors” with the help of an elaborate network of monitoring stations and video conferencing facilities set up in all flood-stricken districts.
The president directed officials to remove bottlenecks hampering the smooth operation of relief activities, adding that he would extend his stay in Karachi for however long it took to personally supervise the flood monitors. (WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY HAFEEZ TUNIO AND OUR CORRESPONDENTS IN HYDERABAD, BADIN & NAWABSHAH)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2011.