Two hundred people have fallen prey to the devastation that hit Badin and other areas in Sindh by more than 1,000 millimeters of rain in the last month. This is the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in Sindh. Compare this to the 70 odd millimeters of rain that has fallen in Karachi over the past few days and one begins to realize themagnitude of the catastrophe Sindh is facing.
I was in Badin earlier this week with a group of volunteers called SA Relief. I witnessed, first hand, what exactly was going on. From our entrance into the Golarchi area to Badin to Nindo, Khoski and Shade Laerge it was the same dismal story. Vast swathes of land on either side of the road were completely inundated with water. I have been working in flood relief since 2010 and I have to say that I have not seen this much water in my entire life. The flooding is so intense, that for several stretches there is no land in sight at all. In fact, I felt like I was driving in the middle of the sea – it was terrifying and saddening at the same time.
We went all the way up to Kohli till the road itself vanished into the water. We had no choice but to continue in fiberglass boats which took us to villages which were completely cut off from dry land. The desperate inhabitants of these villages were sitting on top of their roofs awaiting rescue.
When I reached the Tando Bagho area, I was surprised to see several army trucks waiting for people to board them so that they could be evacuated. A strikingly difficult scenario faces the government and civic authorities. With 20,000 cusec’s of water gushing into the area the people already inundated want out but the people on connected main land do not wish to go. This is simply not a case of being illiterate as many NGO’s will tell you. The people do not want to go. Many of these people, although not very well off, still own houses and shops, and are content with what they have. Why would they leave all of this for empty promises?
With reference to these people who are unwilling to leave, the SSP Badin, Ashfaq Khan stated:
“The realization will only come when they see a wall of water coming their way”
This is a warning not to be taken lightly, as this man is not only honest, he is the very officer who apprehended the white corolla criminal who had Karachi under siege for several weeks.
We went on doing what we could to help the stranded families. Everywhere we went, we found numerous helpless people pointed out to us. We handed out ration hampers to 300 families, 2000 ready to eat meals, and 200 tents. Our efforts were a drop in the ocean, but at least one drop that helped a few people. The SSP’s office gave us complete support, provided us with security, and gave us a plan so that our efforts did not overlap the work already being done.
Politics aside most of the relief effort currently going on in Badin is through the Mirza family and the different religious groups. Other than this presence I only came across a couple of camps run by the Red Crescent – and that’s it.
So where exactly are all the relief organizations that were springing up all over this city after the floods of last year?
Yes, there is definitely donor fatigue and the mainstream media has turned its face from this crises.
This, however, does not mean that we should not put in the effort to drive a mere three hours from Karachi. If this is, indeed, impossible, then why not donate in cash or kind to an organization that is doing worthy work in Badin?
The NDMA estimates that 500,000 people have been displaced on the roads and whatever dry land that is left in Badin. I suggest all of us all over Pakistan get up and start contributing to save them for certain death. Calling in the United Nations may look impressive on the newspaper’s front pages, however, anyone who has been in the field knows that such aid comes with quite a large percentage of it going the way of salaries, petrol, general wastage, and leakage of the aid givers. Thus, it falls on our shoulders to try to do what we can for our fellow Pakistani’s immediately. The world may have given up on us as a nation but every year nature is giving us a chance to prove them wrong.
Let’s do it once again.
As published in the express tribune on 13/9/2011