Upcoming floods: UN food agency urges govt to be proactive

Weather patterns show that the monsoon season will be similar to last year.

Our Correspondent June 09, 2012

HYDERABAD: The World Food Programme (WFP) called upon the government to establish a mechanism with the humanitarian agencies to stop delays from creeping in while responding to a disaster.

The WFP’s country director, Jean Luc Siblo, at a press conference on Thursday recalled how the belated intervention after the monsoon-triggered floods in 2011 affected the people in need of relief.

“We caught up with the relief after about two months of the catastrophe,” said Siblo.

The floods in 2011 affected around five million people. The left bank districts of South Sindh fell one after the other to the unprecedented rains and flooding of water channels and drains that it entailed. However, the government took a while before it asked the United Nations for help.

Siblo said the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has predicted that the monsoon in 2012 will affect up to 29 million people in Pakistan. “Although, at this point in time we (WFP) can’t be certain about the magnitude but the global weather patterns show that there will be a continuation of previous years.”

The WFP’s head emphasised on the need of training people in disaster management at the local level and establishing greater coordination between the relief agencies and the district administrations. He informed the media that the WFP has made provisions to mobilise 10,000 metric tons of food in Sindh alone within a week’s time, which would feed approximately 350,000 people. “We have also arranged boats to transport food to marooned communities and built 10 storage facilities.” The WFP, according to him, is present in 19 of the 23 districts of Sindh.

The organisation distributed 92,000 metric tons food among 3.4 million people in Sindh from September to December, 2011. It also launched ‘cash or food’ for work programme in the recovery phase.

According to Rasheed Mehar, an official of the Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority (SIDA), the food organisation spent over Rs100 million in the ‘cash or food ‘work programme carried out in collaboration with the SIDA. “We provided employment for five months to 3,000 people, rebuilt 40 water distributaries, built 120 raised platforms in schools, health units and offices, and repaired scores of field drains carrying water to the bigger drains,” Mehar told The Express Tribune.

The work was reportedly carried out in Badin, Mirpurkhas, Sanghar, Tando Muhammad Khan and Umerkot districts. For every 15 working days in a month, a worker was paid Rs5,000 or a 100 kilogramme food basket containing one-month ration.

The WFP is currently working with 22 partner agencies in Sindh, many of which are engaged in the recovery phase.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2012.


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