Saturday, September 10, 2011

What's being drowned out of the news: Flooding in Pakistan again

It’s surprising what doesn’t get reported in the news. The case at this moment that strikes me is the flooding in Pakistan. Again the people of Pakistan have to bear flooding -- on top of the suicide bombing, the corruption, the indifference of their own government to their needs, the failure of the education system, etc. etc. The Pakistani folks deserve better leadership. The comparison with what's happening in India displays in stark economic numbers how much Pakistan has suffered because of the narrow-focused military leadership that has controlled politics in the country. In so many ways, Pakistan illustrates how important good leadership matters.

But today's news is what may be called a natural disaster because of the flooding, but as others have pointed out "natural disasters" are actually rarely "natural": Much has to do with the human preparedness for events like this. For this is a repeat of the flooding last year, when the government failed to provide much help to those most affected. Now the numbers are growing.

Here are some details from today’s article in Al Jazeera [“Anger grows over Pakistan flood relief: Rescue efforts after heavy flooding in Sindh province still hampered by bad weather, as 132 deaths reported.” Al Jazeera 10 Sep 2011 06:59].

• A least five million people in Sindh and Baluchisntan provinces have been affected by the monsoon rains.
• About 900 villages have been submerged and about 100,000 homes have been completely destroyed.
• About 200,000 people have turned to relief camps.
• The worst-hit districts are in Sindh and Baluchistan.
• Residents in the area were in desperate need of assistance, asking for food, drinking water and shelter. "We have lost our homes, our belongings, and our lifestock. No one is here to help us, the government is not worried about us," said one person.
• It’s still raining in Sindh. According to one official, "most people have been rescued. There are a few, unfortunately, who want to stay on their own lands. But we are trying to bring rescue to their doorsteps…”
• The flooding has also caused tremendous damage to Pakistani crops during the harvesting. ... up to 13 per cent of the country's estimated crop may have been lost.
• In the "most fertile part of the province [Sindh]” … more than 80 per cent of the cotton crop has been destroyed.
• "60,000 cattle have gone, drowned and dead.” [In Sindh]
• Last year, about 20 million people were directly affected by the worst floods in the country's history. About 2,000 people were killed in the disaster. Now we have another year of it.
• One year after the floods, more than 800,000 families remained without permanent shelter and more than a million people remained in need of food assistance.

Link to the original article here:
Anger grows over Pakistan flood relief - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English

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