Notes from the flood zone

Published: August 11, 2010

After the devastation of the 2005 earthquake, we should have come up with a disaster management plan - even a basic one.

This flood is worse than the 2005 earthquake because it is going to cause prolonged misery. First of all, all this water is a cesspool in the making. People have no clean drinking water. Do you know what they are doing? Drinking flood water. This is causing gastrointestinal problems. Stagnant water and mosquitoes will ultimately result in malaria. I am not medically qualified, so I can’t paint an accurate picture of the problems, but this is the gist of it all. Apart from that, it’s monsoon season, and we all know all kinds of bugs and insects come out during the rains. In the affected areas, it is scorpions and snakes. They end up biting people, and people end up requiring shots that aren’t readily available in the medical relief camps.

Containing the damage

The true extent of damage to infrastructure, property, livestock, biodiversity and the environment at large will only be known once the water recedes enough for experts to conduct environmental impact surveys. For now, we can just pitch in, however we can, for the rescue and relief effort and make the best of it. And difference is being made:

After this long, tiring day I am happy to share that today the CIWC site office team of Pakistan Wetlands Programme provided more than 500 kilograms of livestock fodder for the stranded livestock in 7 livestock relief camps. These camps are temporarily established between Taunsa and Kot Addu in collaboration with Punjab livestock department, Muzaffar Garh. More than 150 kilograms of fodder was directly distributed in communities for stranded livestock. CIWC team also succeeded in provision of one trolley of livestock fodder to these camps by convincing a local landlord through negotiation and continuous coordination.

Today more than 8,000 anti-malarial and anti-histamine medicines were provided to temporarily established medical relief camps in collaboration of Punjab health department and local NGO Saiban Welfare Foundation. Very soon I will share the detailed report of what is happening and what we have contributed in relief and rescue activities at Kot Addu on behalf of WWF-Pakistan Wetlands Programme.”

Zafar Ali,  Kot Addu Office of WWF – Pakistan’s Pakistan Wetlands Programme

How floods have impacted animals

As far as animals are concerned. Just yesterday a colleague,Uzma Khan Director, Biodiversity at WWF and I were discussing how we will need to monitor all the canals and irrigation channels when the water recedes to find any stranded Indus Dolphins. One was already sighted near Sukkur Barrage, but the water flow was too heavy to get across to it. And people were more in need of support.

23 bears rescued from various areas in KP were being kept in a bear sanctuary at Kund Park in Swabi. Flood waters rose to about 60 feet in that area and they drowned. There are also reports of several caged birds at the same park drowning because no one thought of setting them free.

I guess that’s what happens in time when disaster strikes and you don’t have a proper disaster management plan in place.

Disaster management plan, please

After the attack on the Ahmadi mosques, journalist Mosharraf Zaidi went a little berserk on Twitter. He kept Tweeting this:

#counterterrorismstrategyplease.

Over and over again. Now, him Tweeting this may not have caught the attention of anyone in the government, but it actually made several people at least think about it, and raise the question about the fact that despite being the country that has paid the most for participating in a 9 years old hand-me-down ‘War on Terror’, we still don’t have a counter terrorism strategy.

So now, with the floods, I’m wondering if I should start tweeting #disastermanagementplanplease. Get others to do it too. After the devastation of the 2005 earthquake, we should have come up with a disaster management plan – even a basic one. But we have nothing. And this is why there is a ‘trust deficit’ amongst people for NGOs and aid organisations. This is why people are reluctant to pitch in as ardently as they did after the earthquake hit us.

We know the problems, and we know our limitations. We know our own capacity to reach out and put right the things that have been tossed around and toppled by this disaster. With these notes from the field, I wish we would just forget everything else and reach out. And when at least there is a margin for us to sit back and breathe, I wish we would force our democratically elected ‘leaders’ into formulating a workable disaster management plan.

That, and a counter terrorism strategy, please.

nuzhat.siddiqi

Nuzhat Saadia Siddiqui

An eco-warrior, storyteller, tree-hugger and book-hoarder. Nuzhat is the media coordinator for WWF in Lahore and is in touch with all of the field offices of the agency. She is also an active member of TEDx.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

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  • shy

    We badly needs planning in every field and department of the Pakistan.Bad planning or lack of planning is the main reason of natural disasters.On the other hand religious terrorists are bad spot for the Pakistan.With political will they are murdering peoples in the name of Islam. Recommend