Pakistan is still in an extremely vulnerable situation even six months after flooding first occurred affecting over 18 million people in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan regions. Oxfam recently released a report on the current state of Pakistan that I highlight here:
…although Pakistan’s floods are the biggest emergency of recent times with more than 18 million people affected, the funding for the response has been woefully slow. The UN appeal for $2bn to rebuild Pakistan remains only 56 percent funded. (AlertNet)
In the wake of recent severe flooding in Brazil, Sri Lanka and the Philippines which have resulted in hundreds of deaths, the general news media seem unable to comprehend the full scale of these disasters and how they affect people’s lives. In some ways the media increase the gap between those affected and those who are simply unfamiliar with experiencing disasters of this sort by not revealing the context of these situations. The fact that just over half of the budget recommended by the UN appeal has been met is news indeed that so much more can be done in assisting communities with the tragedies they face now and to help them to prepare for what challenges may lie ahead in the future.
Asking large media corporations to incite social action is quite a tall order. Usually, news media tend to be mostly reactive and rarely concentrate very much on providing any in-depth analysis of what is actually taking place in countries prone to disasters. This doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions and news media are certainly relied upon heavily by government and relief aid agencies alike. News is certainly good at spreading the word and this is perhaps its primary strength, but what people do about the situation is another matter entirely, but I think reporting should be about engagement that actually plays a role in helping people on the ground.
What is even more astounding is that the Pakistan government will stop flood relief efforts beginning today:
Oxfam is urging the government of Pakistan to extend the emergency period until people’s needs are met. The Pakistan government is due to stop emergency relief operations in most areas from 31st January 2011, but Oxfam warned that this could put at risk large numbers of people who still need assistance. (AlertNet)
This chart gives some idea of what little has been provided to Pakistan compared to other disaster relief appeals made by the UN:
This is based on data from 9 August 2010 where $3.20 USD was provided to each person affected by the floods in Pakistan compared to the $495 provided to each person affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Trusting the government of Pakistan is certainly crucial and something that may have led to the deficit in relief aid. In order to build trust, transparency is needed in order to understand how funding is received and allocated: