Situation Update: History Repeats itself too Often for the People of Pakistan

Situation Update: History Repeats itself too Often for the People of Pakistan

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With the death tolls above 1,500 and the floods now already in Sindh Province, recovery efforts remain underway. The floods have caused huge destruction in the provinces of Khyber Paktunkhwa, Balochistan and Punjab including areas of Azad Jammu Kashmir while areas along the Indus in Sindh are expected to be badly damaged in the days ahead.

Background

According to government figures, so far 263,314 homes have been destroyed while in Khyber Pakhtunkwa 720,608 homeless individuals. Total estimated number of individuals affected is close to 4.5 million. These figures will rise considering that approximately 600,000 to 700,000 cusecs of water will enter Kotri within the next three days.

In the last five years since the 2005 earthquake devastated parts of Pakistan, not one year went by where the people of Pakistan did not suffer from disaster. The years 2006 and 2007 brought floods; although not even close to the destruction brought by this year’s floods, people lost their lives, homes, crops, and livestock. In 2008, a powerful earthquake rendered thousands homeless in Balochistan at the onset of winter. In 2009, millions of people were displaced by the conflict between the Pakistan military and militants in Khyber Pakhtunkwa and Waziristan. Throughout these years, severe droughts and water shortage plagued the agricultural communities who constantly live with the reality of food insecurity. Now, 2010, a year for new beginnings and the continued road to recovery has turned into a record-breaking year for flood destruction not just in one province but throughout the country.

Resilient is often a word used to describe the people of Pakistan, but this cycle of loss and destruction is truly testing this attribute. Thousands of people have been living in pre-fabricated shelters still trying to regain their lives and livelihoods lost five years ago. Entire communities have begun to rebirth, and now, these very same people must start over again after the floodwaters are gone. IDPs, many who have only recently returned home to Swat and other areas, once again find themselves without homes and property. Farmers who were already struggling with food insecurity have lost or may lose this year’s harvest, thus, pushing them farther away from achieving food security for their families.

Undoubtedly the floods have caused widespread damage to agricultural and crop lands adding further threats of food insecurity to the flood affected families. Particularly affected are the crop lands in the province of Punjab known to be the breadbasket of Pakistan thereby supplementing the problems facing the country. As sources of food supply remain underwater flood affected families face the possibility of not being able to harvest and sow their crops. Media sources also revealed today that the price of sugar passed Rupees 70 per kilogram. The country has already been experiencing increased food prices and pre-Ramadan increases in food prices only intensify the threats of food insecurity.

Similarly having no shelter and subjected to the high risk of food insecurity and water-borne diseases brings forth a harsh test through time. Flood affected families in Kashmir, Muzaffarabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and Balakot had already experienced massive devastation in the 2005 South Asian earthquake. “People in the affected areas are most vulnerable and they had hardly managed to get back their lives together after the earthquake. Again everything they had is taken away from them,” shares CWS-P/A’s Associate Director Dennis Joseph. “At this moment it is not just their material well-being but also their physical well-being which includes their mental well-being that is important.”
Dennis also shares the story of Mehr Nisar, a fifty year old widow from Punda Balla Village. “I lost my husband in the earthquake, and I was living in a [pre-fabricated] shelter with my son after that. This has now been destroyed as half of the land under the shelter was washed away.” There may be more like Mehr Nisar who wait for better times ahead so that their lives are no longer at a stand-still.

CWS-P/A Response

CWS-P/A along with its partners, VEER, NCBP, and Save the Children (a Royal Netherlands Embassy supported consortium) continues relief efforts during this time of crisis in providing immediate relief to families affected by the worst floods in Pakistan. From distribution of relief goods to health assistance, CWS-P/A’s teams work to comply with Sphere Standards throughout their response initiatives.

CWS-P/A continues its health services and distribution of food packages and shelter items. Current flood-related assistance is reaching 155,200 individuals in Khyber Pakthunkhwa and Balochistan. CWS-P/A’s work includes the distribution of thousands of food packages and shelter items (plastic sheets) as well as preventive and curative health services through its mobile health unit and current health services in Mansehra and Swat.

Contacts

Allan A. Calma
Deputy Director
Disaster Management Program
allan@cwspa.org.pk
Cell: +92 301 5801621

Muhammad Fazil
Associate Director
Emergencies/DRR/Climate Change
fazil@cwspa.org.pk
Cell: +92 332 5586134

Kelli Siddiqui
Head of Communication
ksiddiqui@cwspa.org.pk
Cell: +92 302 5156273

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