While floods from monsoon are unlikely this year, the unpredictable patterns of rainfall poses a threat of potential flash floods like last year.
The Department for International Development (DFID), however, is fully prepared to respond to any emergency situation.
“We have already prepared contingency plans and our equipment is ready to be used. We will provide immediate support to 15,000 families in case of any emergency,” said DFID Head of Humanitarian Unit Bob Leverington while talking to The Express Tribune on Tuesday.
Moving a step ahead from its support last year, the United Kingdom on Tuesday announced to provide housing, seeds and animal fodder to nearly 1 million flood-affected people in Sindh.
DFID estimates that some 1.8 million people in the province are still living without shelter and are vulnerable to diseases. The funds will be utilised in the worst affected districts of the Sindh - Umerkot, Mirpurkhas, Sanghar, Matiyari, Badin, Benazirabad, Tando Mohammad Khan and Tando Allahyar.
Following the United Nation’s February 2012 Early Recovery Framework appeal, the DFID agreed to provide 10 million pounds to Pakistan, focusing on families which did not receive support last year,” said Leverington. The department, he added, has catered to almost 8% of the needs of affected people.
Under the early recovery programme, nearly 18,000 families (126,000 people) are receiving construction material and professional advice to build flood-resistance houses from DFID. Moreover, up to 100,000 families (700,000 people) have been given seeds, fertilisers, trees and animal fodder to generate income.
Leverington said DFID is coordinating with the National Disaster Management Authority, which is doing a lot of work in water management, infrastructure, identification of vulnerable population and preparation of contingency plans.
Regarding the department’s long-term plans in Pakistan, he said a five-year programme, focusing on forming resilient communities, will be initiated next year.
The programme will focus on three components - ability of communities to respond quickly and flexibly to emergency when it arises; a community-based disaster risk management programme; and research into early warning systems and vulnerability assessments.
Last year, the DFID provided 11.4 million pounds in emergency response, which was channelled through International Organisation for Migration and Hands, a Sindh-based non-governmental organisation. “The aid, to be utilised at a local level, is best delivered by NGOs and INGOs since the government at the local and district level does not have the required capacity,” he said.
Since last year, the UK government has given seeds, fertiliser, and animal fodder to a total of 864,500 people (128,500 families), while nearly 315,000 people have been provided flood-resistant homes.
The UK also provided 57,000 blankets and 24,000 buckets, 28,000 solar lamps and support to the World Health Organisation’s Disease Early Warning System in Sindh until February 2012. In addition to that, immediate lifesaving support helped over 1.6 million people get back on their feet.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2012.