A disturbingly bleak picture has been portrayed by initial surveys conducted by UN agencies in large pockets of Sindh, where most people have completely lost their livelihood. The rapid assessment aims to judge damage caused by the floods on an urgent basis, while long-term assessment is to be carried out by the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The flood waters have, overall, wiped out 73 per cent of crops, 36 per cent of livestock and 67 per cent of food stocks in the 13 worst-affected districts of the province that will have an impact on the lives of flood victims in the region for years to come.
In spite of the gargantuan proportion of damage already assessed, much of the havoc wreaked by the floods has still not come to the fore – especially the devastation caused in areas that are still cut off from communication networks because of continued inundation.
UN affiliated bodies, including the World Food Programme and the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, with the help of Pakistani authorities, have compiled a ‘rapid assessment’ report based on field surveys. For unknown reasons, most of the information in this report has not been made public.
According to the report, Badin, Tando Muhammad Khan and Tando Allahyar are among the worst-affected districts. Badin, for instance, has lost 96 per cent of its crops. As the assessment itself is a first step, it is highly likely that figures relating to damage mentioned in the report are going to swell.
High figures, low credibility
Against the backdrop of the alarmingly high level of damage is the paucity of the government’s credibility, severely hampering the inflow of funds for flood relief.
The UN, WB’s and ADB’s involvement in flood reports has much to do with the fact that the government needs external assessment
to reassure international donors of the legitimacy of its cause. Many are reluctant to donate, fearing the misappropriation of funds.
Earlier, an official of the Economic Affairs Division on condition of anonymity said, “At least they’ll have a look at a report prepared by these lending agencies”.
PM calls donor meeting
Highlighting the devastation caused by the floods across Sindh, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Saturday called upon national and international relief agencies, as well as the media, to portray the severity of the situation to the world.
“The scale of devastation this year is not less than what this nation experienced last year,” Gilani said, while briefing ambassadors, heads of diplomatic missions and representatives of international organisations.
“Millions of people require shelter, food, healthcare and sanitation,” the prime minister said. “I must call upon organisations both public and private, the corporate sector, civil society and the media to harness their potential to the full and continue to play their role in extending relief to those hit by this huge disaster.”
(ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2011.
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