Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The New Strategies Adopted By International Donors & Relief Agencies In Pakistan Floods.

A sustainable shelter designed by Institute of Architects Pakistan. Very versatile.
The August 2010 floods that ravaged Pakistan and exposed all its fragile, corrupt and mismanaged departments and administration & bureaucracy at once for all the world to see also made the major funding agencies and disaster and relief organizations adopt a strategy where the usual donor-recipient relationship for development was avoided in order to curb corruption, pilferage & stealing of direct relief to flood victims. Sindh will benefit more from such a direct relief strategy as here the corruption and societal apathy is at its peak. Here the disaster & poverty of the flood affectees is also large.
The strategy adopted by the World is to give direct relief via Organization of Crises & Humanitarian Assistance(OCHA). It works with all the humanitarian relief organizations like Unicef, WHO, WFP , USAID via clusters which are basically 11 in number. In Sindh , the shelter cluster is the least fulfilled where the gap is very wide. Here are many reasons for this. Large areas are still covered with water. The initial abodes were made in areas that were not permanent shelters and were in the course of the riverine areas as the population is subsisting on agriculture.
The Relief & Rehabilitation involves multifaceted approach as towns and farmlands have to be built side by side with infrastructure of the canal & bunds. As most of the canals & bunds were now merely occupational structures with no clear record with the irrigation departments & the major cause of disruption & disaster was also because of this, there will be great difficulty in repair. There has to be meticulous mapping of the canals & bunds & restructuring and re-designing of the farmlands that were illegally occupied. The chief minister Sindh has made himself the head of a rehabilitation & reconstruction commission.
The humanitarian relief agencies are directly calling tenders for the NFI, shelter, other services activities and plan to give these directly to the flood affectees through their networks with CBOs, NGOs and DCOs. This does bring some relief but the scale of disaster is so big and the infrastructure for relief so small that this seems a daunting task. Financially also donor fatigue and even initial disinterest is prominent as seen in shelter for which some larger, sustainable proposals have not been funded initially.
The pitfalls of direct tendering are that the staff of humanitarian agencies will be both overwhelmed and also the goods and services may be substandard as per requirements & delayed.
Another aspect which the real donors are really interested in funding like protection, gender security etc are not addressed at all this humanitarian response at all..
Due to the under availability of health in rural areas the health coverage has also been very, very poor, of adhoc and low quality in far flung areas in Sindh.There is no future strategy for malaria, cholera or any epidemic control as most hospitals are under staffed and lack facilities.Dengue is already epidemic in all of Pakistan. With winters, pneumonia especially in children will be difficult to deal with.
The issue of clean drinking water & food has now reached a crises level and with the government so overwhelmed with its Watan card, infrastructure development, economic crises issues, this will definitely need international donors and world help. The crises in Sindh remains and is too deep and wide for the OCHA to handle alone, therefore a special help organization or group should be formed by the philanthropists of the world and the world community to help Pakistan.
A PCM child with pot belly.Very common picture in Sindh.

The author at the lush landscaped rest house in Moro.
The Sindh government has decided to built Zulfikarabad near Thatta but the issue of displaced people from the right bank will not be solved by this. They also need to be given land which they can use as an asset. There is ample land in Sindh to be given to these people and also to landless peasants. The international aid agencies should also push for land allotment as explained.
The education sector which was already highly corrupt and has really destroyed the future of the Sindh population needs to be reformed too. This is a good opportunity to build internet & E-learning technology centers in rural areas, redesign the curricula to meet future needs , of which IT industry is one sector that can be very quickly and usefully built in Sindh. The whole education policy needs to be redesigned according to needs. Mother tongue-based curriculum design with additional foreign languages , maths , science and technology based curricula with choices for rapid specialization should be the main thrust.
Renewable energy like solar, wind etc in rural areas should be invested in by US, UK, EU ,RUSSIA & CHINA.Thar Coal should be seriously developed on fast track basis and the Thar Coal Board should include private business experts and de-linked from government agencies in administrative matters. The administration should only be a facilitator and be involved in roads, community rights etc.
A severely malnutritioned child with anemic child-mother.
A peasant worker(Hari) in Sindh, with himself malnutrition, tender age, anemia with three children.Children have no shoes.
Another malnutritioned child of Marri tribe settled around Hala displaced to Jamshoro.
Child playing with broken sandal as a toy.Cannot stand up.
The bamboo & straw shelter designed by Institute of Architects Pakistan which they can use as sustainable shelter.
The mentality of the landlords has not changed at all and this is reflected by a talk by a Spanish wife of a big landlord in Sindh who said that there was not one case of malnutrition in Sindh as the peasants get enough food to eat& all variety and when I told her that I saw 100 percent malnutrition in Moro area both stunted, severe in children, women and men she said that we should be like Spanish where general Franco imposed compulsory medical service in rural areas and where the rural workers are hard working. She also insisted that the produce in Moro area is one of the best in Sindh and as there is fair distribution how can the peasants be hungry. With such escapist mentality even of European descent ladies married to landlords of Sindh how can we expect the extremely corrupt, degenerate landed sons of Sindhi soil. See the real state of malnutrition and poverty in Sindh and then please do help Pakistan for humanitarian reasons.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Safe Drinking Water For Flood Victims: Some Practical Methods For Communities.

It is increasingly identified that in order to mitigate the mortality due to contaminated drinking water needs of flood affected communities especially vulnerable populations of women and children, there is need to offer and train communities in safe, easy, cheap methods of improving drinking water quality. Some methods are as follows:
Boiling: After passing the water through some clean muslin cloth, boil it for at least 10 minutes. Cool and resieve if needed.
Disinfection: This method is more suitable in the present circumstances as fuel for boiling is in short supply and many areas the cooking arrangement maybe deficient. Use household bleach. Liquid containing a 5.2% solution of sodium hypochlorite is safe and effective.
Method: Place water in a clean container. 4 drops for one litre (litre water bottle for measurement or litre Pepsi bottle can be used). Mix thoroughly and leave to stand for 30 minutes. If water is cloudy or very cold leave for standing to 60 minutes. If water does not have a slight bleach odour after the standing time , repeat the bleach treatment and let water stand for another 15 minutes.
Bore Holes: In places where urgent water bore holes can be dug, a hand water or machine water pump can be installed.This is also relatively safer for drinking than surface water.

Solar Energy For Disinfection: Put water in transparent .plastic water bottles for at least 6 hours in sunlight. This is enough to disinfect for safe drinking. (WHO, UNICEF).
Source DFID document on flood mitigation. and Mr Akhtar Ali http://developmentpakistan.blogspot.com/).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pakistan’s Floods 2010: Historical Background and Current Challenges.

 Pakistan’s Floods 2010: Historical Background and Current Challenges

DR.Meher Zaidi.

In August 2010, as Pakistan reels under the devastating flood of depair and catastrophy of Biblical proportions, there are some real questions that need to be answered and some urgent trials that will eventually have to be put in place both for the administration and to the people in a socio-moral perspective.

In 2006, the World Bank  Report on Pakistan’s Water Economy (Oxford) emphasized the creation & training of a new generation of multidisciplinary water resources specialists and promised the stimulation of “ centers of excellence” for water resources sciences. It concluded  that over the recent decades the capacity for modern resource management has not evolved rapidly enough to meet the emerging challenges.
As I watched the interview of Mr. Nizamani, director, Sindh Irrigation Authority (SIDA)  to Sindh television anchor while sitting on Kotri barrage with a piece of paper in his well fed pudgy  hands , on the very, very ample girthed-belly, saying that Inshallah Kotri barrage will see this flood pass and nothing will happen, I was thinking about the plans to train the new generation of multidisciplinary water scientists as envisaged in their report.
In Thul thousands are trapped with sudden inundation of their area and even cutting of gas supplies. How will they cook or even boil the unpotable water that is flooding with the cattle dead in the water. There are thousands of pesticide bags, many of them even expired (My husband had done a study in 1997 which showed 1000 tons of expired pesticides over Sindh and Punjab of which 300 tons were sent for disposal to Germany).The elected representative Dr. Shoaib Sarki has given a few rusks to a very few people gathered in a small piece of land that was not submerged when they were telling them their difficulties Another man even said something about him giving him a hundred rupee note to get something for himself.. So much for the relief with food supplies. This was shown on Mehran television. The residents of Thul do not want to leave now. They just want their gas restored and they want some food and medical relief. They appear very angry with the elected representatives leaving them in times of dire need.
On another channel, the KTN news network there were live call in from various people including a PPP MPA, complaining how some influential parliamentarians and feudals  had tempered with the dykes and bunds and saved their own  lands and inundated very large areas of other people. This is a widespread complain now. By August 9th this was only starting. The Mounder town with 10,000 residents had to be emergency evacuated by the army because five private bund breaches were made there without warning to the residents.
All over Sindh people are sitting helplessly on bunds or the little available high ground, without shelter or relief. The government agencies and infrastructure as it is dilapidated, corrupt and weak, seem overwhelmed. The lack of local bodies and any community based organization at the village level is reflective in the disorganized and helpless plight of millions of people in Sindh. These people who were living off the land, farming, cattle herding and sustaining their poor livelihoods are suddenly ravaged with the floods. The question now arising is that was this scale of flooding envisaged in Pakistan or Sindh? Was there a flood disaster management plan? What did we actually do to prevent or contain such a catastrophe? What ugly truths have been laid bare by this enormous calamity?
From the perspective of a citizen, I did try to study the few documents available on the net  and some books and reports, out of which some things I will share with the reader.
The World Bank did emphasize the fact that “ in service delivery the state water institutions have not made the transition from the era of development & construction to the era where management of resources and services is the primary challenge”. This has become so obvious in what has really happened in Sindh. Here the primary layering and repair of water channels has not happened. The transparency and fairness in water allocation has resulted in “illegal” bunds and dykes which the feudal landlord has without coordination and warning with the authorities, broken to let the ravaging waters loose on the hapless other neighbors. The decentralization of irrigation management along modern management lines has not occurred at all. The corrupt practices of the irrigation department has added to the disaster impact.

 In a country like Pakistan wherethe World Bank says “ the Indus plain offers the most complex challenges in water management”, the priority and the resolve of the Pakistan’s military & political forces to manage this complex challenge is evident from the fact that less than ----amount of the development budget is spent on the priority of improving the infrastructure like the repair of dams and barrages, cementing of the water courses etc. In its report it says that “Pakistan has a large endowment(with an estimated replacement value of US$ 60-70 billion) of water resources infrastructure, most owned and managed by the provinces , and much of it is quite old. As described in this report, the condition of this stock  of infrastructure is a major cause of concern. In some instances- such as Taunsa and Sukkur barrages, the precarious state of major structures puts the well being of tens of millions of people at risk”.
It identified the increase in water lending to Pakistan from 2000-04 to about US$ 1 billion. The Sindh Water /Irrigation Sector Improvement Program (US$ 140 million) was to improve water productivity through a reform agenda/ investments leading to a better management system that would link canal command areas, the distributary, and the water course level. Components included were; capacity building; civil works, agriculture & irrigation technology; and management and & administration.
As always discretion and lack of accountability are handmaidens to corruption. As seen in this report the facts are evident as to what really happened in the implementation of the civil works  and improvement of management program.

Mr Nawaz Sharif in his utter niavette is opposing the Flood Disaster Relief Commission, to which the prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has responded with the word “Council”. The fact is that ;
Federal Flood Commission (FFC) was established in 1977 to provide the necessary infrastructure at the federal level to help
the provinces in meeting the technical and financial resources required to carry out the Flood Mitigation Measures.
The lack of transparency and non-merit appointments of the irrigation department especially in the Sindh province where such a large network of waterways is spread to provide livelihood to such a large population and where the major dams and barrages are structurally in very old and poor state is beyond imaginable and sane comprehension. The ingrained culture of corruption, nepotism, sycophancy and feudal mentality is so obvious now that the way the floods were or are being managed in the whole of Sindh. It is a shame and a time of deep introspection for all of us that claim to love and live of this beautiful tolerant land, that gives us so much. Who will answer this? Can we truly blame the new government? No, not really, as the Sindhi nationalists are vocalizing. What have they really done to fight off corruption and nepotism. What have they done to envisage  any disaster and prepare the local communities to mitigate its effects. Just by racist remarks and violent expressions of hatred the pain and miseries of the folks cannot be removed. The sheer lack of any food, medical relief to the people who are being affected shows the apathetic communal cushion of support to the average resident.

The people of rural areas that have been badly damaged in Sindh are complaining that their standing crops, entire villages are inundated at the expense of the larger towns. This has a background.

 This mainly happened because the provincial relief organization as part of the plan was almost non-existent.
Provincial relief organizations were envisaged with the responsibility of disaster preparedness, emergency response, and post disaster activities
including floods. Flood preparatory actions required to be taken by the relief Commissioner included
(i) Arranging inspection of the flood protection.
(ii) To establish flood warning center and the flood centers at the district and Tehsil levels.

There  is a very large population in Kacha areas and along bunds which have established residential villages and were not included in the earlier disaster relief map. (As such there is no mapping along modern GIS lines in any part of Pakistan including very populous Karachi, where cantonment including Defence , civilian, residential areas are secret to GIS mapping)

 As I studied the disaster mitigation plan document the following facts were seen:
The FFC prepared the National Flood Protection Plan 1978 (NFPP-1978), that comprised of a viable future flood protection plan.
The main thrusts were:
a) To reduce the flood losses
b) To give priorities to flood protection to the areas of greatest economic risk
c) To provide protection from flood damages to areas out side flood plains i.e. cities & vital infrastructure installations.
d) Improvements in existing flood protection/flood control facilities.

The other background is as follows:
Pakistan faced much damage from floods in 1973 after which the federal government decided to strengthen all mechanisms of flood warning system and also initiate a flood disaster response system.
The army is playing a vital role in rescue and relief of the flood affectees. It was given a role in the 1977 plan which it has fulfilled with diligence and utmost valor. Its flood related function encompasses all the three phases of flood operations from the pre-flood to post flood.

 After reading the documents available and seeing the real time damage and evolution of the current flood disaster I have reached the following few conclusions:
-That there is a need to devolve the disaster management plan to the lower community level, including the revival of the local government right now without elections so that some structure is in place for relief and later rehabilitation.
-That there is an urgent need to complete overhaul and restructuring of the technical and manpower human resource of the irrigation department.
-There is urgent need of capacity building & training of existing staff in modern management practices.
-There is urgent need of reforms and restructuring of the water distribution and resources such as water rights etc.
-There is urgent need to develop political consensus on all water issues in order to early development of new infrastructure.
-Last but not the least there is a need for accountability, transparency and merit in appointments of all manpower in water and irrigation departments.

In the end a few words about Mr. Zardari. As he was so defensive about his presidency in the news conference today with Mr. Kerry Lugar on being questioned by a foreign journalist and links it to the derailment of democracy and his contribution to the averting of civil war post Benazir’s killing, he needs to realize that his label as a corrupt person is now a dead weight on the government of Pakistan Peoples Party and the whole of the relief funding  effort in Pakistan and the world. The prime minister is the CEO and in his own words the government is of consensus. If he leaves the presidency and as the unanimously elected prime minister is favored by all so can a president be chosen. In no way the democratic government will be derailed. He needs to make a dignified exit. His expression of resolve and passion to build new villages in place of the ones inundated maybe sincere but a more viable and tenable is a social and political contract to remove corruption especially in all government departments in Sindh, bring about meritorious appointments of all staff  irrespective of ethnicity or religion, transparency in all public dealing and true accountability at all levels. May God give us all to bear the brunt of the devastation of floods in Pakistan with courage and hope.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Role of Occupational Therapist in Disaster Management.


This is a good concept paper. All people can gain insight into disaster handling and preparedness.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Children's Health In Pakistan.. A UNICEF article.

There is a dire and urgent need to address the Child Health Issues in Pakistan. UNICEF gives a timely, comprehensive background and describes the avenues to work in.