Editorial : Flood recovery - Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Great Flood of 2010 is no longer front page news, and we hear little of how it still affects millions of people. The international NGO OXFAM has now provided us with a picture of what life is like for the flood survivors, and their hopes and aspirations. They polled 2,040 people in January across all the flood affected provinces except Gilgit-Baltistan. What people want above all else is jobs, the ability to work their way out of the plight they find themselves in; they do not want handouts. They want affordable food and reliable and available healthcare - the bare necessities of life. Over a third of those polled said that they had seen corruption in the relief and rehabilitation efforts, and they saw corruption as a significant obstacle to their recovery. All of us aware of the steady rise in the prices of everyday goods, and those of us with jobs are adjusting our budgets accordingly. For those without a budget to adjust, or a job, staples such as flour, oil and sugar are ever further out of reach. The World Bank estimates that a quarter of our population lives below the poverty line, but that percentage grows exponentially in flood affected areas.

Even in their desperate state, survivors saw positive aspects to the relief and rehabilitation effort. Sixty-six percent said that they were satisfied or reasonably satisfied with the help they had received from international agencies, and forty-two percent were satisfied with the help provided by the government. What the report highlights in stark fashion is the poverty of planning by the government. Eight months on from the height of the flood and the government has yet to publish its reconstruction strategy. This is nothing short of scandalous; and it compares poorly with the post-quake efforts in 2005. The OXFAM report details numerous instances of aid and rehabilitation being hampered at the local level by powerful vested interests wishing to champion their own favourite projects; and once again the most vulnerable members of society find themselves at the bottom of the scale of priorities. Clearly, lessons have not been learned. The long-term rehabilitation of flood affectees is ultimately the responsibility of the government, not the national and international NGOs. We would urge the creation and publication of a national strategy for flood rehabilitation which will help affectees ‘build back better.’ As the matter stands, it looks very much as if the government is treating flood victims as ‘out of sight and out of mind.’ 

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=40926&Cat=8

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