Flood victims prepare to share sheets, as winter approaches

"All my three grandchildren have fever and coughs" says Salim Chandio, 60.

Ppi October 27, 2011

KARACHI: Temperatures in Sindh's Badin District, the area worst affected by floods which began in August, are still warm, though tens of thousands of people without adequate shelter are beginning to feel chilly at night.

"At this time of year, the winds begin to blow from the north rather than the south, and it starts to feel colder at night - especially for all of us sleeping outdoors, with barely a sheet to cover us," said Salim Chandio, 60, adding, "All my three grandchildren have fever and coughs, and we are worried things will get worse if they don't get shelter."

Amina Hasan, a general practitioner who works in the town of Badin said, "Acute respiratory tract infections are always a problem among children living in cramped, crowded conditions - and things could worsen rapidly as the weather cools further in November."

According to the International Organization of Migration (IOM), which a few days ago received a new consignment of shelter kits, blankets and other equipment to help some 15,000 families in Sindh, such supplies are badly needed.

"This shipment is particularly welcome as it comes at a time when our emergency stocks are nearly exhausted. Thousands of families still need our help and winter is fast approaching," said IOM Pakistan emergency operations manager Tya Maskun in a press release, according to a report by IRIN, the UN information unit.

According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), as of 25 October 8,978,665 people have been affected by floods in Sindh; 462 people have been killed; 538,637 houses have been completely destroyed and more than 900,000 damaged. Sindh's population is estimated at 35 million.

NDMA said 917 relief camps are currently operating, but more help was required.

Saleem Rehmat, a public information officer with IOM, which is leading the emergency shelter cluster for flood victims said, "The international donor response to the funding appeal by UN and the humanitarian partners with regard to the 2011 flood is very bleak. With winter approaching fast, people will be requiring much-needed winterization material not only to provide them with shelter, protection and privacy, but also to save them from possible diseases to which they might be vulnerable in the absence of support."

He said IOM urgently required US$18 million to continue providing shelter and other household items to flood affected people in Sindh, as it is fast running out of contingency stocks.

Other agencies agree people need more help.

"There are still many people managing almost entirely on their own, and just living under canvas sheets," Nazir Hussain, a volunteer for the charitable Edhi Foundation, said in Badin. "Donations from local people have not been generous this time, perhaps because they are so hard hit by inflation themselves."

The UN appeal in September for US$357 million to fund the Pakistan emergency has, according to the media, had a very poor international response. The funding shortfall has been discussed in the National Assembly and at other political forums.

"We can't understand why no one will help us. Some rice has been handed out, but for the longer term we have no idea how to manage. All our livestock are lost, and our crops washed away," said Marvi Bibi, 25, who sleeps in the open with her three-week-old baby girl.


Laura Wrzeski | 10 years ago | Reply

"Donor fatigue", the downturn of the global economy, and a stunning series of crop shortfalls and failures in many regions are having a devastating effect on humanitarian aid.

And, as we have all heard, the human population of the Earth has reached 7 billion.

It is possible that wealthy westernized nations are expressing their political, conflict-based revulsion and anger towards Pakistan and Somalia by reducing humanitarian aid, but the primary reasons that wealthy nations and their citizens are less generous is because poverty and unemployment has become a problem even in the USA. A large consensus in the US is growing re. domestic concerns and an often-expressed sentiment is "charity begins at home".

In addition to the economic woes felt in wealthy nations, crop shortfalls and failures have reduced surpluses all over the world. Many analysts believe that food crops diverted to biofuels production have further reduced the global food supply, raising prices and even causing some food-exporting nations to ban exports (as Russia banned wheat exports last year because of massive crop losses due to wildfires) in order to ensure their own populations' food security.

The rising populations, particularly in poor nations, combined with crop shortages are causing food prices to rise. As prices rise, food market speculation is going to put even more pressure on the world's most needy.

There is a huge and growing belief in the global "donor" population that the aid given to poor nations is unlikely to reach the intended recipients. We know that corrupt officials, warlords, organized crime and militant gangs siphon both cash and food aid away from the poor.

Citizens of "donor" nations are also furious about the failure of chronically hungry nations to do anything to slow population growth.

While "donor" anger and cynicism may be causing some "donor fatigue", in my opinion it is the global economic downturn plus crop shortfalls and failures that are causing traditionally very generous donor nations and their citizens to be less-so.

Straight_Talk | 10 years ago | Reply

There was a tsunami sometime back in India. It was a huge disaster that had also affected Srilanka, Indonesia and Maldives. There was no dirth of aid. Generous assistance came in both cash and kinds. India had declared that it would not require any aid from outside. Indian domestic aid was so huge that soon the main problem was not funds or for that matter aid substances but how to take them over to the affected areas. Similarly there was no dirth of aid in Indonesia, Srilanka, Maldives. When i see the pictures of Pakistani flood victims i wonder why on earth should the world neglect such a huge human tragedy. Pakistani government, it seem, is incapable of tackling this on its own. It is also quite clear now that the sick image that Pakistan has gained in the last decade is now having its effects on foreign aid. I think a message has been conveyed. The lack of response to the UN appeal to the international community for aid for Pakistan this year and also the last year signals some kind of a punitive attitude of the donors. India can help but Pakistan will not take it. China can also help but they are as they have always been----- a master of illusive coziness in matters that have no additional tangible return. The net effect is states prevail with their egos and the people who are the basis and purpose of the state perish in neglect. What a tragedy ?

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