The physical effects of the Floods 2010 are very obvious. According to the NDMA’s latest data on the flood damages, 1,985 people lost their lives in the floods that swept across the country. Around 1.7 million houses were damaged and 20.1 million people were affected. Out of the total 141 districts in the country, 78 are badly affected. A total of 12963 schools and 471 health facilities were destroyed besides the damage done to the agriculture sector. Houses, lands, crops, schools, hospitals and infrastructures have been destroyed. People have been left jobless and resourseless. Water borne diseases and other climatic related disorders have hit the victims badly.
The floods have highlighted the needs of those hard hit areas, which were already underprivileged. It has also magnified the vulnerabilities of the disadvantaged groups, the daily wage earners, the bonded labours, the landless, the small peasants, the small businessman, the micro entrepreneur, the old and infirm, the women and the children. It has made prominent the misery of and the poor conditions in which the majority of our people live in. The affected areas and people have become the centre of attention for the world.
The purpose of our Flood Relief Effort program is to emphasize the fact that rehabilitation is not only a matter of philanthropy but it is a very serious issue of public policy. The causes behind this disaster are many. it was not only the natural calamity that has become the reason for such mass destruction, but certainly many manmade causes contributed to this situation. The future disaster reduction strategies need to involve efforts to merge knowledge, expertise, technology, management skills, institutional capacities, and practical experience for the successful outcome.
The rehabilitation work should not be seen as an extra responsibility on top of the other development work in our country. We say that there is a transformative opportunity in the adversity. Let the floods wash away the broken and underdeveloped Pakistan. Let the floods usher in a new era of rebuilding a prosperous Pakistan.
In our Flood Relief Effort Program, we have started with the basic relief activities such as provision of food, clothing and medical facilities for the flood affectees in our selected areas. After our regular visits to the flood affected area of Charsaddah for the medical camp, we observed that most of the diseases the people of the area suffer from are water borne. We have therefore planned to work on the provision of clean drinking water in the area.
Distribution of Medical packs for families in Nowshehra & Pabbi
As the first phase of our efforts to help flood affectees we agreed to distribute medical and Hygiene packs for 1000 families consisting of supplies to last one month. Each pack consisted of the following:
- Everyday Milk pack
- Aqua water cleaning tablets
- Paracetamol tablets
- Paracetamol syrup for children
- Brufen syrups for children and
- ORS pack for children
On 15th Aug, we setup to leave for flood hit areas in Nowshehra district, as per our plan, to deliver these items. We were a team of five people including Shaista (team leader) Hussain , Bilal, Mudassar and Saeed. We travelled by a coaster bus. We set off at 9:00 am. We went through GT road according to our plan. When we reached Taxila and Wah cantt it started to rain heavily making driving very difficult. The rain continued until we crossed Hassan Abdal.
We stopped at Attock khurd, where we saw first signs of the flood.
The Indus was flooding at peak and as far as we could see the houses in the surrounding areas had been drowned under the water. We could only see the tops of very tall pine trees out of the water.
After about half an hour we entered Nowshehra cantt. We stopped there to find the whereabouts of various camps. Unfortunatley there were no directions or signs that could direct us. The roads, markets and the houses presented a gloomy view of the havoc and destruction that the flood had caused. The basement floors of the markets were still fully immersed in the water. We had to stop and ask from the local people repeatedly about the direction to the relief camps.
While heading towards the main camp, setup in the Government College of Technology, we saw on the roadside a small khema basti of about 20-30 tents. We stopped there to deliver the aid items initially. When the bus stopped near their tents, the people and children came near the bus running from their tents and surrounded the bus completely. There were nearly 35 families accommodated in those tents. These were the people who had fled from Mardan and kachi basti near kashti pul. It was very difficult for us to come out of the bus in the first place because of the rush.
Most people thought that we had brought food for them. People were so desperate to get the aid items that they started quarrelling with one another even before we downloaded anything from the bus. We told them to go back to their tents and promised to reach every tent and deliver to them the medicine and milk packs. Two of those people helped us in sending them back to their tents. We went tent by tent and delivered the medicine to them and told them about their usage. While doing all this I noticed that despite being in a miserable condition, sitting under a tent and having nothing at all, every one of them was thanking us for helping them. Some of the people we talked to about their conditions told us that no one has provided any aid to them yet. They told that all the aid and donations are given to those sheltered in big camps in the city, and no one stops for them.
Our next stop was the Government College of Technology camp. This camp was sheltering around 560 families [3289 people] who had lost their home in floods. We went to visit the free medical camp setup there. Children, with their hands and faces unwashed and caked with mud, were roaming about the tents and medical camps. They gathered around every vehicle entering the main gate in hope of getting food or aid items. Women were sitting on the ground outside the medical camp waiting for their turn. The little kids in their laps seemed ill as they were crying. We met the doctor working in the medical camp. He told us that they were present in the camp since the start of August. The medical camp was setup by the human development commission of Pakistan Government. He told that most of the people were suffering form outbreak of infections because of the dirty water. He told that they needed most the medicine for itchiness, skin inflammation, eyes infection, fever and pain, and cholera in children. We donated nearly 200 packs to them for the affectees.
We went to the different tents that the flood hit families had setup for themselves along the GT road. There we found some affectees who had come from Azakhel. Their women did not understand Urdu at all. Their men could speak and understand Urdu so they helped us communication to them about the usage of medicine we delivered to them.
We then carried on towards Pabbi and stopped at various tents/camps near the road and on the footpath and distributed the medicine among women and milk packs to the children. We also visited the medical camps of the National Highway Authority and Nowshehra Police where doctors were seeing the patients who lived near the camp in their tents. We donated some medicine to the camp and distributed milk packs among the children and women. In Pabbi we went to the Government High School, where almost 120 families were settled.
On the way back we stopped in Akora Khattak and went into the Cenna School & College. The principal of the college Ghulam Nabi Cenna told us that 679 families were living in the college building since the flood displaced them from their homes in late Jul. We donated numerous packs to them.
There was another mobile relief team of Al-Mustufa Trust whom we met on our way and donated some quantity of medicine to them. They were providing food and medical aid to the flood hit families in Nowshehra, charsadda and Peshawar.
We now had only milk packs left, which we distributed among the children in the tents near the road from Akora khattak to Attock khurd.
In our visit, I have observed a few things that I want to share and which are important for planning our visits in future. First and foremost the need outweighs any efforts by a huge margin.
- We should asses the need of aid as exactly as possible before our visit. Randomness doesn’t help. Planning does. While time is of essence, we must understand that this is a tragedy that will need help and relief for a long time to come. So proper planning is must.
- The process of delivering the aid items becomes very difficult as people start snatching the things and many of them who don’t do this, they remain deprived. Therefore delivery logistics should be preplanned and executed without emotion to make sure that aid reaches maximum number of people.
- In all the camps we visited, there was no lady doctor and there is growing and urgent need for lady doctors and lady health visitors.
- Children and women always seem to be over- run by men. Special children and women packs should be made to target delivery to less empowered.
- One must never undermine human dignity by any act of omission and commission, no matter what.
ASSESSMENT VISIT TO FLOOD RELIEF CAMPS
Vision21 Team visited the flood relief camps for the assessment of recent situation and need in the flood hit areas on 16th Sep 2010.
Our first point of stop was Charsadda. We visited a UNICEF & HRDS supported affectee’s camp in Meraprang Tehseel. This camp was sheltering nearly 232 families, who had fled from the nearby villages of Drabb Majoke and Faqiarabad. We met the camp incharge, Jawad Khan, who told us about the affectees. The people residing in the camps told us that 90% of the houses in those villages had been washed away. The living conditions in this camp were good as it was clean and had good WASH facilities. According to the affectees they had no major medical problems. However they complained about the non-systematic and irregular supply of food to them.
We visited their villages, which were near to the camp. Two of the local people accompanied to guide us towards the village. After a 10 minutes drive we were in Drabb Majoke. The village presented a sight of complete destruction. The houses and mosques were ruined. The children were roaming around the streets, which were now turned into an open flat ground. A group of the local people started gathering around as we walked into the village. They were all walking with us and telling us about the problems they have faced. They told us that what they need most at that time was the money and resources to rebuild their homes and go back to their work and rehabilitate themselves. They complained that no one from the Government has reached them. After we took a visit to the village we came back to drop the people to the camp and moved forward to visit other camps.
Our next stop was a free medical camp in Charsadda set up in a paper mill by Ummah Welfare Trust. It was a one bedded medical camp with one doctor and one female nurse. When we reached the camp it started raining. May be that was the reason that no affectees were around in the camp at that time. We met with the nurse who had been working in the camp for more than a month. She informed us that the affectees of nearby villages visited them and the OPD of the camp was near 400 among them most number was of female patients. She explained that the common diseases that people come up with were UTI, Eyes infection, skin infection, diarrhea and gastro. The nurse also told us about their main relief camp was in the Govt. Degree College Charsadda, where 6000 affectees were sheltered.
We moved forward to go to the main camp, which was near to the paper mill camp. We met with the camp managers there. The camp incharge told us that they were providing shelter and food to near 6000 affectees in that camp. They provided the dry ration packs containing the supply for a week and stoves to the families in their tents where they cooked for themselves. The Camp Incharge, Sardar Iftikhar also told us that UWT was planning for the rehabilitation of the flood victims in their next phase of relief work. The plan was to made the prefabricated two rooms houses for them. They told us that they were working on the plan. They also had another medical camp over there. The OPD in that camp was 300. They required medicine for UTI, diarrhea, eyes & skin infections. UWT was also running their relief camps in Muzaffargarh and Multan.
After Charsadda, we went to Nowshehra according our plan. On entering the Nowshera city, we observed that many of the camps and single tents on the roadside that we had visited during our first relief plan in August were not there as the people had moved back to their houses or main camps.
We stopped first at a khema basti of above 100 tents set up underneath the foothills at the roadside. The people residing in these tents were the affectees of Mohalla Zareenabad, which was just at the walking distance to their tent. The houses of the mohalla zareenabad were still flooded and partially submerged in water. The people in this camp complained majorly that no one was helping them. The camp incharge told that they were provided the tents and crockery in the start but after that they had been on their own to arrange for the food and their living needs. An old woman who also lived in zareenabad told us that her house was still drenched with water and the only source of their income was a Suzuki pickup, which had been damaged in the flood water and no one helped her taking that out of water. The people complained that the aid did not reach them. They are helpless. They told us that they needed food, clothes and bedding, because the autumn / winter season was due to start and they did not have any provisions for that.
On 17th September we set off for Muzafargarh at 630 am from Rawalpindi. We decided to take the route via Mainwali, Bhakkar and layyah. This is the eastern side of River Indus and we thought we may get a glimpse of damage inflicted along that way. On reaching Mianwali, we could see the pine tree still half covered in the flood water. The people on shops and Fuel stations near that also shown us the marks of the flood water till the mid of the walls. Mianwali is one of the districts where a large number of people are affected due to the floods. The affected population in Mianwali is reported to be more than 700000.
Along the way we came across another problem. About 60 kms form Muzaaffar garh we ran out of CNG. Apparently There is no CNG available between Bhakar and Muzaaffargarh . This is nearly 150 kms. We got a shock when we were told there was no petrol available as well. We literally had to beg one station manager to provide us a gallon of petrol which will atleast take us to Muzzaffafargarh. … Different reason were being given point into lack of supply form up and down country as well as washing out of local petrol refinery due to floods. After the scare we however finally managed to reach Muzafafrgarh at 3 pm.
In Muzaffargarh the first camp that we visited was the one set up by Al Khidmat foundation to collect the donations and aid items for the flood affectees. We met with the camp incharge, Arsgad Mehmood Lagharie, who briefed us about their relief camps and activities in Muzaffargarh. He told us that from the statistics they had gathered about the flood demages, near 63 union councils were washed out of the floods. He also told us about the other relief camps set up in Muzaffargarh. We then headed towards other camps.
The first camp we came across was the Falah-e-Insaniyat relief camp. There were 100 families sheltered there who have fled from Baseera, since the flood devastated their homes in the local villages. The trust was providing cooked food to the affectees daily. They had also set up a school for the children. The camp incharge, Fahadullah told us that there were 106 children registered in the school. They had hired two volunteer teachers from among the affectees living in that camp. The school was set up in the mosque and children were provided with the course books including English, Urdu, Islamyat, Maths, Science and Social Studies.
The camp also had a sewing centre for the women. The ‘Silai Centre’ had 5 sewing machines for the training of the women in the camp. There was a medical camp set up at the entrance of the main camp. There was a rush of women and children in the medical camp. The doctor mohammad shafique told us that the common medical problems among the affectees were those of fever, skin and eyes infections and diarrhea. The Falah-e-Insaniyat team working in the camp seemed quite coordinated and well informed about the relief activity. After this we reached the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf [PTI] relief Camp where a large number of people were waiting for the distribution of cooked food at 5pm. The camp was called Thermal Colony camp.
We met with the workers of Tehreek-e-Insaaf at the camp. The Camp incharge who was also the general secretary of PTI in Muzaffargarh took us to the tent where he showed us the map of flood affected areas of Muzaffargarh and detailes about the demages the flood has caused. The information was quite organized as the camp Incharge explained to us through the map of the Muzaaffargah district about the areas affected and their relief camps in the districts. He told us that the total population in the tehsil jatoi, kot addu, alipur and muzaffargarh is 2635903. There were 11000 registered families with PTI relief camps in the district. He explained that Muzaffargarh, being in middle of both Indus and chanab is badly affected in the floods. He told us that the PTI had set up its 14 relief camps in kot addu, manawan, baseera, shah jamal, khan garh, shehr sultan and ali pur. PTI workers told us that they provided cooked food to the affectees daily at 5pm.
It is a sad commentary that in our visits we saw no activity of relief from the government. The affectees we talked to, also complained that no aid from government has reached them yet. Rather they have also taken their identity cards in hope of receiving aid and they did not get anything but mere promises. The NGOs and volunteer groups are much more visible and helping people in different ways. The problem is of the lack of coordination in relief activities. The slow response and miscoordination is the result of the lack of governance that is the major cause behind several problems that we face at present. The lack of governance and lack of preparedness to eliminate the risks of disasters has been exposed in the post flood scenario. The time has once again given the call to take this point as a new start and seeing the opportunity in this adversity to reconstruct and rebuild the country with a fresh zeal and in a better way.
In all the camps that we visited in Charsadda and Nowshehra, we have assessed the following needs in those camps:
Food: dry ration supply /ready to eat food on regular basis according to the basic nutrition rules. The food supply was either short or irregular. There is a need of proper assessment before the distribution of aid items.
Medical Care &Health: The medical condition in the camps we visited was comparatively better that the other things. The affectees were provided with medical treatment and medicine in almost all camps. However there was need of the medicine for skin and eyes infection, ORS for children and anti malarial medicines.
Clothing and bedding: as the winter season is due to start soon so there is need of warm clothes, and bedding for the affectees Schools and skill centers: We have noticed during our visits that none of the camp had school & skill centre for the children and elders. There is also the need of setting up schools for children and training centers for the women and elders to empower them so that they can start helping themselves.
Clean Drinking Water: There is a need to arrange the proper sources of clean drinking water Rehabilitation: No work for the rehabilitation has been done or started yet in the areas we visited. The work of reconstruction of their houses, roads, schools and infrastructure needs serious attention and will to be started for the timely rehabilitation of the flood victims.
Visit to Charsadda- Drabb Majoke & fakiraabad Majoke for distribution of ration packs
After our assessment visit, we at Vision21 have made the following plan of action as the second phase for the relief of affectees:
- Distribution of ration packs containing supply of food for two weeks to 250 families in Charsadda Meraprang Camp
- Distribution of clothes and shoes to women, men and children in Meraprang camp in Charsadda.
- Distribution of clothes and shoes to men, women and children in Nowshehra Camp.
- Donation of medicine to the Ummah Welfare Trust in Charsadda.
- Registration of affectees in Charsadda and Nowshehra for the next phase of rebuilding houses and skill transfer plan of Vision21 as a third phase of flood relief.
The Vision21 team visited Mera Prang Camp in Charsadda, last sunday Oct 10th 2010, to distribute food rations to our identified clusters, the displaced families of Drabb Majoke and Fakirabad majoke villages.
The team consisted of 6 people. We had earlier visited the villages in September for the assessment and planned to distribute the dry ration packs to the affectees, as they had told us that food was their main concern. We had taken with us the dry ration packs containing the supplies for one month for 200 families. We also donated 500 bottles of IV solution in two Ummah welfare trust relief camps, that are set up in the local paper mill, and the degree college Charsadda.
In addition, we planned to register the displaced families, so that we may involve them in our future efforts for rehabilitation and relief more systematically.
In our previous conversations with the flood affectees, we knew that most of the people in that area earned their livelihood from labor, farming and livestock. The women worked as house mates and they sold cow milk, mustard oil and pickle. Almost all the inhabitants of the Drab majoke and Fakirabad majoke had lost their houses and their belongings in the floods.
The most affected were those who were now unemployed or had lost thier livelihoods due to the flood disasters. These were mostly the day laborers, masons and farmers. They had now become completely dependent upon the aid. On our question about the aid government had provided to them, every one of the affectees answered that they have not received anything from government as yet. They told that the individuals who visited them after the floods and the NGOs did help them in form of ration, shelter, sanitation facilities and drinking water pumps.
The only one affectee, who had benefited from the government relief, was a 48 years old man, Jan Muhammad. He had perhaps the most heart rendering story of the flood disaster. His two daughters lost their lives in front of his eyes in the floods, when he was trying to move out of the water along with his family to a safer place. He told with tears in his eyes how her daughters, whom he was carrying on his shoulders suddenly, slipped away and got drowned. He drove a chingchi rickshaw that was his source of income. He told that he was given Rs. 6 lakh by the government after different TV channels broadcasted his interviews and the tragedy that happened with him.
We also faced a little difficulty in completing our registration process, when lot of people gathered around the tent, where we were issuing them the token after registering them. A crowd of people suddenly broke into the tent. We stopped. And I went out to seek the help of two policemen who were sitting at a little distance from our place. On our request they agreed to help us in maintaining discipline during the distribution process. After completing our distribution phase we moved on to the medical camps where we donated the IV solutions to Ummah Welfare Trust.
In our recent visit, and the previous ones to the flood hit areas, we have made a few observations which need to be shared. It is so unfortunate that even three months after the ruinous calamity, the government is lingering on at the same stage and very very slow pace of the relief work. Thus the affectees have started depending on the aid due to no rehabilitation activity taking place since they have been displaced by the floods. It is crucial for the government to understand and realize that what negative outcomes the country can face in the future if the issues are not taken care of at present. The government really needs to reflect on the seriousness of the crisis which we are in and act accordingly.
On the other side, despite the unstopping efforts of relief by the dedicated groups and organizations, what is lacking is the coordination between the relief providers. Therefore, by this stage, there must be regional coordination centers in all affected areas for the organizations and individuals involved in the relief effort. So that more and more people can get the relief benefits and in a better way. We share our plans with our readers for the same reason and objective. It is a common mission and can be accomplished in a better way if done together. Contact us to join in doing your bit.
Vision21 Free Medical Camp for Flood Affectees of Jafarabad organized by Yar Muhammad Samejo Educational Society & Development Organization (YMSESDO)
On November 10, 2010, we visited Flood Relief Camp, Sugar Mill in Charsadda for the distribution of clothes and shoes for men, women and children.
Medical camp and distribution of toys among children in Drabb Majoke & Fakirabad Majoke villages in Charsadda district on 17th March 2011.
Drinking Water Project for flood affectees in Cahrsadda