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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. Read more
A website uses the Ushahidi Platform to map reports from people in Pakistan affected by flooding and whether they are in need of emergency aid such as clean water or shelter. Anyone in Pakistan can send an SMS from their location to report on hazards in their area. Their report is then mapped along with others using Google maps. While using SMS messaging to inform volunteers, government and others about hazards happening on the ground is limited to some degree, there is no doubt that it can play a role in ensuring that others receive help who are unable to communicate in any other way. Of course this also depends on whether they have a mobile phone or other means of sending texts as well, which during many hazards, such as flooding, electronic devices are often destroyed. Read more
In Pakistan, millions are homeless and while the north is no longer experiencing intense flooding, it is still a problem in other parts of the country. In the Sindh province of southern Pakistan, Manchar Lake, the largest fresh water lake in Pakistan, burst displacing around 100,000 people. Public health problems, especially disease, are also of great concern as aid has been pledged and received from countries throughout the world. But how much is received by the people who need it most is of course the question on many people’s minds. The EU has doubled its flood aid to 150 million euros and one would think certainly this would help resolve many of the country’s problems, but clearly when dealing with disasters of this scale it takes far more than money. Read the rest of this entry »
Thankfully, scientists from the UN World Meteorological Organisation have been confident in pointing to one of the likely causes of the severe flooding in Pakistan – Human-Induced Climate Change – that was also likely connected with the heat wave in Russia and the flooding and landsliding in China. Read more
While international aid and assistance continues to be provided to Pakistan, the country is still devastated and only beginning to recover from the worst flooding it has experienced in history. The World Bank and Asian Development Bank have promised $3 billion USD in ‘soft loans’ and countries throughout the world have provided significant aid, including China who have been dealing with their own severe flood hazards and landslides. But the big question is whether the government will use incoming aid wisely. Read more
The monsoons in northern Pakistan are unprecedented. Rain fall is expected to continue into next week. The Indus River, Pakistan’s longest river, is expected to increase tenfold at 1 million cubic feet per second. One of the growing problems is that not only have people’s homes been wiped out, but also crucial health infrastructure needed for medical care. As waterborne diseases spread, emergency medical care is imperative. Sources of drinking water have been contaminated by flood waters carrying decomposing animal and human bodies. Recent statistics from northwest Pakistan on loss of housing and other damages caused by the flooding are of great concern: “55% of communities reported that injured and sick community members are not receiving any medical treatment”.