Once again, floods ravage parts of southern Pakistan — here in Sindh province. Once again, the response is low and slow with the government not yet permitting or requesting international aid agencies to get involved, though some have slipped down and are offering relief.
We’ll be sending a small team down tomorrow (Saturday) to see the situation and see if the situation is indeed well in hand as the government suggests it is or if more help is needed as local officials and NGOs suggest it is.
The danger, though, is that everyone goes down to carry out assessments, while nothing gets done, and the people being ‘assessed’ grow quickly frustrated and angry. Enough looking and asking questions, please! Get to the part where you actually start helping us!
We tried to rely on information coming from others to help inform whether or not we should get involved, but reliable information just isn’t coming out. That’s why we’re sending our little team down.
Fortunately, our part of northern Sindh — so badly devastated by floods this time last year — hasn’t been affected. We’ve had one rain in the past 2-3 months, over and done with after a couple of hours, leaving big puddles, but not much more than that. So far, it seems unlikely that we’ll face any flooding this year, which is a Very Good Thing. But now we’ll soon see if we should relocate down south.
Meanwhile, nothing — nothing! — is being done to try help Sindhis build up infrastructure and social coping mechanisms to reduce the impact of inevitable future catastrophes. When disaster hits, assistance slowly arrives — not enough and not nearly coordinated enough. But what’s really needed is development and long-term improvements to reduce the number and scope of disasters and to build up community level coping strategies, so that people can better respond themselves while waiting for outside help.
Ah, but Sindh just isn’t all that sexy for the donors or, it seems, for the government. At least not for long-term development. As a political playground, sure, but not for anything that really counts. And that’s quite tragic. So much needs to be done here and so much can be done here. But no one, it seems, is willing to make those investments, seeming to prefer to wait for the next disaster.