General observations about Pakistan floods

Some general observations from the floods of 2010, which are sadly relevant again:

  • People affected by the floods (last year as well as now) were already among the poorest begin with although they do include some well-off farmers and trades-people too, in areas where there was already little access to education and healthcare.
  • The relief camps set up last year brought an unexpected silver lining in the opportunity to many flood affected people who had access to a doctor or a teacher – for the FIRST time in their lives – at the relief camps. This indicates the level of underdevelopment in Pakistan, the huge percentage of the population that lacks access to healthcare and education.
  • At the relief camps, despite the lip service paid to Islam and the equality of mankind it preaches, the unstated caste system prevalent in the region discriminates against those from the lower castes, particularly if they are also non-Muslim. There are reports of Ahmedis, Christians, and Hindus (particularly from the ‘lower’ castes) being denied food and shelter and some camps. (Mirpurkhas for example, has an 18 % population from the minority communities – bheel, kohlis, bagris known as scheduled castes – landless farmers, wage labourers and in some cases also bonded. “These communities are twice discriminated – on the basis of class and also on religion. They are the ones who have no homes are sitting on both sides of Hyderabad-Mirpurkhas Road,” writes Sadiqa Salahuddin, noting that IRC is working with these communities.)
  • Relief organisations included those affiliated with ‘religious’ and/or militant organizations but in proportion, they were far fewer than projected by the media.
  • Relief efforts would not be able take place effectively without the involvement of the government and its networks, which were (are) given far less credit for the work they were/are doing, many people working in the field told me last year.
  • While acknowledging the army’s relief efforts, it should also be noted that the army is answerable to the government, and its mandate includes providing relief work during disasters, particularly since it has the manpower and equipment to undertake such relief work.
  • It is important for NGOs and individuals working in the field to coordinate relief efforts with the National Disaster Management Authority and its provincial arms. This is essential so that volunteers and NGOs don’t end up duplicating efforts, to reach the areas that need it most, with items most urgently needed, which vary from area to area – as pointed out by a Swiss volunteer working with Medicines Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) last year.
  • The social media, particularly twitter, has been very useful in sharing information about affected areas and relief efforts. The hashtags most commonly used to flag relevant tweets are: #Pkrelief #pkfloods
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3 Responses

  1. […] Beena Sarwar has some general observations from the 2010 Pakistan floods, which are sadly relevant again as nothing significant has been done to prevent floods. Tweet […]

  2. […] Beena Sarwar has some general observations from the 2010 Pakistan floods, which are sadly relevant again as nothing significant has been done to prevent floods. […]

  3. […] General observations about Pakistan floods […]

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