Experts shed light on rehabilitation options for flood victims

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Islamabad: The Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainable Development Policy, Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, said that when losses exceed the 2010 floods, a larger response and recovery plan backed by adequate resources should be put in place, leaving aside differences and political considerations.

Dr Suleri was participating in a Twitter space discussion hosted by SDPI where experts with humanitarian backgrounds highlighted a number of policy options for an adequate response, recovery and rehabilitation plan.

Dr Suleri said the damage will lead to loss of livelihoods and food insecurity. He said the BISP is an excellent cash disbursement program as a social safety net. Those who are unregistered could be boarded up and cash transfer should start as soon as possible so people start to get back to normal and markets are up and running.

Head of Pakistan Humanitarian Forum Syed Shahid Kazmi says we must prioritize provision of cooked food, nutritious dry food, clean water, medical camps, fodder and other services livestock vets, drying, mosquito nets and shelters with temporary toilets. He said that in such circumstances, there is a need to provide women and children with safe spaces to protect them from violence. He hopes that once the UN flash appeal is launched, much of the humanitarian funding will come to Pakistan, which could be helpful in protecting people from hunger and disease.

Disaster management expert Syed Waqar Shirazi said that in just three districts – Dera Ismail Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Tank — 70-85% of the area was submerged and caused massive destruction. He said power and telephone signals had been cut in flood-affected areas, hampering rescue operations. The floods damaged standing crops such as rice, sugar cane and cotton and seeds for future crops were also washed away. He warned of disease outbreaks resulting from standing water. Shirazi said it is a result of the refusal of humanitarian INGOs to operate in the country that we now have a shortage of trained aid workers with global experience.

SDPI’s Dr Shafqat Munir Ahmad said if we had learned from the 2010 floods, we would have built safe spaces and raised platforms to protect people and their property. He said we need to update development plans at national, provincial and district levels making them risk sensitive. We need to align disaster risk reduction (DRR) policies with the commitments made in the Sendai Framework on DRR. Writer and environmentalist Zofeen T Ebrahim said young people have a passion for supporting flood victims, but they are not trained in humanitarian work, which poses problems in reaching the population. She called for the provision of cooked meals and tents to bring immediate relief to the people affected by the floods. She also expressed the opinion that banning humanitarian INGs was not a good decision as they were training our human resources in emergency management.

Development journalist Moazzam S Bhatti opined that the media can play a big role provided they have access to assessment data. Appeals through the media always attract funds and humanitarian support from the general masses and philanthropists.

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