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Daily The News

Karachi

By Jan Khaskhely
The government should design a pro-poor policy by rehabilitating flood affected people and reconstructing their villages and towns through a transparent and accountable process, as the displaced flood victims are living in deplorable conditions in relief camps. It is likely that anarchy will prevail, in the Sindhi society if the hundreds of thousands of displaced people are not properly rehabilitated.
This was said by representatives of civil society organisations at a consultative workshop on ‘Flood Disaster in Sindh: Damages, Needs and Issues’, jointly organised by the Institute for Social Movements (ISM)—Pakistan and Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) in collaboration with UNDP SDPD.
Mustafa Baloch, Regional Head of the SPO, said that the flood has created more challenges for the Sindhi society and the people have to face economic, social and moral challenges, which might create anarchy. “We can not imagine now because when the water recedes, the people who lost their belongings but saved arms will create disorder. In this situation there is a dire need to initiate skill development programs to save our youth,” he said. Baloch added that poverty itself would create confusion in the society. “At this time, all sections of the society should come forward to play their due role to avert this expected disorder,” he said.
The civil society activists accused the government of its negligence which, according to them, is the reason of displacements in 19 districts out of 24 in the province. A number of development experts, professionals and intellectuals also attended the workshop and shared their views in this connection. Many of the participants also shared with the audience their experience of the rescue and relief work in different districts.
There was a unanimous demand that a judicial inquiry be conducted and high officials of the irrigation department should be questioned for their negligence, which caused huge loss to the provincial economy and created a social and psychological trauma among the displaced people.
They emphasized on the formulation of a plan to face socio-economic and moral challenges, which would come to surface after the floodwater recedes.
Fatah Marri, Assistant Professor, Department of Agriculture Economics, University of Agriculture Tando Jam, in his presentation, portrayed the scenario of the losses to agriculture, livestock, fisheries and poultry sectors. He said that not only standing crops have been affected, but farmers would also not be able to cultivate the immediate next crops. Agriculture sector suffered a loss of Rs250 billion, he added. About livestock, Marri said that more than 250,000 cattle heads have died only in northern districts of Sindh and other cattle farmers sold their animals in cheap rates to bear the expenditure for their shifting to safe places. The total loss to livestock sector is measured up to Rs114 billion. It needs further assessment because the loss could be more than being declared by the government and other institutions, he further said.
Head of the Centre for Civil Society and Peace (CPCS), Jami Chandio, urged the need for formation of a transparent commission comprising honest government officials, professionals and civil society members to do a scientific assessment and plan a rehabilitation process. Chandio, who presided over the workshop, appealed to the well off people of the province to extend their help by giving donation for the rebuilding of the ruined villages. He said that they have calculated that Rs30 million are sufficient for rebuilding a small village comprising 50 houses.
Suleman G. Abro of the Sindh Agriculture and Forestry Workers Coordinating Organisation (Safwco) said that the province had to face the disaster because of the indifference of the government. “We have already pointed out that these district disaster management authorities (DDMAs) did not have resources. They were unequipped and that is why they could make preparation efficiently to rehabilitate the displaced communities,” he said.
Zulfiqar Shah, Executive Director ISM-Pakistan, said that they have taken important steps to mobilize resources on this juncture, because the entire province is in panic. He said that the civil society should come forward, urge upon the government to play its role for the rehabilitation.
Women rights activist Amar Sindhu, Mahesh Kumar, Hashim Leghari, Abrar Qazi, Hafeez Kumbhar and others also took part in the discussion.

Link: http://www.thenews.com.pk/09-09-2010/karachi/3882.htm

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