The flash floods have claimed many lives and destroyed many more livelihoods Photo Caritas Australia
Pakistan – Devastating floods across Pakistan has claimed the lives of more than 1300 people. The southern Sindh province remains one of the worst hit. Authorities in the area report a total of 522 deaths so far.
Other places like the country’s northern Swat Valley have had bridges and roads swept away by the heavy waters. This has cut off many villages from receiving valuable aid. African Muslim Agency (AMA) representative, Habib Malik, explained the pictures and videos coming out of Pakistan only tell half the story. The situation is much more severe.
“Pakistan is suffering. There are 33 million people who are directly affected [by the floods]. Over a million people have lost their homes. For the last three days I have been speaking to people and capturing the real desperation of people. Our primary focus is to get to those who are the most vulnerable.”
The floods have destroyed many people’s livelihoods
Currently almost one third of the country is underwater. The summer rain is the heaviest recorded in a decade. This flood is being compared to the devastating one that occurred in 2010 which left more than 2000 people dead. Malik believes this flood is worse as many more have lost their livelihood and possessions.
“People have lost every single asset, their belongings including their livestock as well. The water level was up to seven, eight, nine feet. It’s so visible. You see the level of the water. You can see them on the walls as well. There are a number of homes I have visited where people have lost every single item in the house. Whether it’s their blankets, their clothes, their kitchen items. A number of them have even lost rooms. The homes are not usable. The ones that survived are not usable because of the smell in the house. People are spending their nights outside under the open sky waiting for someone to come and give them food baskets and so on.”
The suffering the floods have brought
Those who have survived the floods are now faced with two different issues. Not only may they not have a place to stay but water borne diseases are now spreading. According to Malik, he has been seeing people suffering with different diseases all caused by the floods. Without a proper hygiene system, the diseases are rapidly spreading.
“Every single person I came across yesterday, they are all suffering now from water borne diseases. You can see on their neck, on their legs, on their arms they are getting rashes because of the contaminated water.”
Currently the need is to find a place for people to stay. After this, mobile medical services will be set up to treat people who have various medical conditions, said Malik. They are also aiming to try and set up some sort of income generation programme. Malik understands food baskets cannot always be handed out, so this is a vital step.
What AMA is doing to help the situation
There is a fear from those on the ground that if aid money is given to the government, it will not be utilised properly. Malik stressed that AMA does not use any third-party providers, and everything is done through them. Currently the aid money they are receiving is being used to create food baskets as well as providing other essential items.
“We are delivering food packs, food baskets and hygiene kits and [setting up] emergency shelters … There is absolutely no third-party involvement. There is no partnership with any local engineers whatsoever and there are no financial transactions to any local authority or government.”
Malik expressed great gratitude to South Africans as many from the country have donated to AMA. Although the flood waters are currently receding, the rains have not stopped. Many places in the country are currently submerged underwater which has made it difficult for rescue services to reach people. Pakistan has called on the International Monetary Fund and other countries for aid as the country tries to recover from the floods as quickly as possible.