The disaster caused by the floods in Pakistan, is of Biblical proportions. According to a preliminary report prepared by the Federal Flood Commission, floods have affected an area of 130,000 kilometers, damaged one million houses, rendered 14 million people homeless and affected 4.4 million acres of cropped area.
“About 2.6 million acres of cultivated area have been wiped out. Massive damage to infrastructure like buildings, roads, bridges, railway track, irrigation system, small dams and power installations has taken place,” the report said.
The media, both National and International, has been focusing on the human suffering and misery, caused by the floods and the efforts of the various organizations to provide relief to the suffering. This is natural in the present circumstances. But the specter of a greater crises is haunting Pakistan. What happens after the waters recede? It is time that the media and the government start seriously contemplating this question and the enormous task ahead and have some productive discussions about tackling this task.
When the waters recede and it is time to rehabilitate the flood affected people, there will be the question of reconstructing the infrastructure, i.e. roads, railway lines, electricity cables, gas pipelines, telephone lines etc. Given the state of inertia and inefficiency of the government machinery, it will be miraculous if the task is completed in the near future. The receding water will also leave a sea of mud and noxious debris like dead animals which will be a potential health hazard. This will require the provision of adequate heath cover to the affected people at a short notice. Provision of clean drinking water and basic food stuffs will be necessary till the agricultural activity can be resumed and even after that till the crops are harvested. This will require [a] Re-demarcation of individual plots of land, since all the land marks would have disappeared under the mud [b] Distribution of draught animals for ploughing etc. [c] Provision of seed grain. [d] Provision of tools and implements. [e] Last but not the least, some kind of house or shelter from the weather. The list can go on and on but if the above mentioned basic requirements are even partially met, there is some hope that the population will be rehabilitated.
The other side of the of the picture must also be kept in mind, if timely efforts are wanting, reduction of hard working people to beggary, squalor and illness, disturbing the demographic pattern of the country, creating unnecessary contradictions and conflicts leading to deterioration in an already grave law and order situation. The damage caused by the floods is not totally due to Global Warming and Climate Change, the inefficiency and neglect of the government is also partly responsible for the colossal damage the country and the people have suffered. Let us hope that something has been learnt by those who are inherently incapable of learning from their past mistakes.