Civil society asks caretakers to rehabilitate flood affectees

April 1, 2013 Off By Web Desk

KARACHI: Civil society representatives on Monday emphasized the need for strengthening advocacy and campaign and sensitisation of the caretaker government to rehabilitate the flood affected people, as majority of them are still vulnerable to face starvation without having source of livelihoods after natural calamities.

The representatives of the civil society were discussing at a daylong meeting to “sharing notes and experiences: Three years of floods rehabilitation and beyond,” organized by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research PILER, here where representatives of humanitarian organizations hailing from Punjab, Khyber Pukhtoon Khuwa KPK, Balochistan and Sind shared lessons they learned during the emergency response.

They highlighted the issues flood affected people are still facing in different areas in the entire country and said since now political parties are in the run to contest elections and they have almost forgotten the families, which need help at this difficult moments.

They suggested that land reforms with giving rural landless farmers pieces of agriculture lands can be only way to avoid effects of the disasters and destructions, because presently the rural population is vulnerable to face natural calamities and manmade disasters.

Ms. Noor Jahan from Jaffarabad district, Balochistan said several families affected by the flood 2010 and 2012 floods in Jaffarabad and Nasirabad districts are facing starvation like situation as no state support is being provided to them. Giving updates, she said since the areas are vulnerable to natural disasters. People depending on agriculture have lost 90 percent of the crops, 50 percent livestock died and about 521 villages were completely washed out in the flood, leaving hundreds of families displaced.

Pariyal Mari from Shikarpur said, besides destruction of sources of livelihoods and crops, almost entire educational and health facilities are no more functional and the government despite passage of such a long time could not respond to rehabilitate these important public infrastructures.

Now when the political parties have nominated candidates for contesting elections, it is responsibility of civil society to mobilize these affected people so they at least dare to ask the aspirant candidates for power corridors that why they stayed away while they were facing hunger and destruction.

The meeting participants observed that migration is a common problem and several families have migrated to other areas during the floods after losing their assets and they are still out of their homes. Irrigation canals receiving contaminated water is another threat for the human and animals. Sartaj Abbasi of Roots Work Foundation sharing his experience realized the fact that sanitation facilities and installation of water pumps were not needed but NGOs provided them.

He said there is a theory that total community-led sanitation is a must to reduce poverty by 60 percent because the sanitation is the main cause of diseases in the developing countries. In fact Pakistan needs to develop this initiative to give sanitation cover to the rural people to avoid major diseases.

Dr Sono Khangharani rejected the understanding about the role of government during the floods, saying spending were the highest in the history. Tracing history, he said occurrence of droughts extreme and moderate was being experienced after every six and seven years. But now the flood disaster are occurring posing threats to the people, who are residing in vulnerable zones.

PILER Executive Director Karamat Ali asked civil society members to come out of illusive dreams and be practical to force the political parties to provide relief to vulnerables. He said despite our claims of doing well to alleviate poverty, we see that disempowerment is increasing, leaving the people at the mercy of nature and disasters.

He said after experiencing three floods we should see the impacts and efficiency of the people to deal with such natural calamities. How the people are capable to face theses disasters and whether or not they have resources economically and socially to deal with these tragedies. He said Poor are vulnerable to face natural calamities and the hostility of the feudal lords, most of they are elected to power.

He said that we are seeing certain spiritual leaders are leading the nation politically and majority of us are looking naïve to understand the changing perception. The inquiry report of Baldia factory fire incident in Karachi was prepared by the caretaker Chief Minister of Sind Justice Retd Qurban Alvi and he had submitted to former chief minister Qaim Ali Shah but he did not make it public; hence we should ask the caretaker government to make it public now.

“We are claiming to have been mobilizing communities in rural areas of Sind, which is said to be the land of Sufis and peace loving people. In fact it is truth, practically there is changing. He quoted a recent horrible incident in which an influential landlord tied minor camel herder by ropes to the neck of camel to teach him a lesson, because the animal allegedly entered the standing crop. He said nobody from the civil society took the issue on their own to condemn it and put pressure so other feudal lords may avoid repeating such incidents.

Dr Manzoor Ahmed of Sungi Development Foundation said despite the efforts of the civil society it seems there is still a gap, which needs to be filled. We are talking about volunteerism but practically things are looking different. There is need that civil society organisations should rethink over their role as per changing scenario.

Dr. Aly Ercelan, senior research fellow of PILER termed it the mechanism to keep revenue under control by building irrigation system long ago. He said natural resources should be recognized as the inherited property of the communities, which are natural custodians of these resources.

Zeenia Shaukat, Zulfiqar Shah, Altaf Mahesar of Basic Development Foundation, Mustafa Gurgaiz and Mir Hassan Mari of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum PFF, Ali Akbar, Manzoor Ahmed and others also spoke on the occasion.