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EDITORIAL: The monsoon season is now over, there are no more rains but the widespread suffering they have caused to millions of people is not over yet; in some cases, perhaps, it will always remain there, so to speak.

The estimates of losses torrential rains and flash floods have caused on the country’s economy by killing people and livestock, inundating farmlands, bringing down homesteads and triggering diseases cannot be fully understood or explored because of the profundity of the calamity that hit the country.

The post-flooding challenges are gigantic, and the response to meet them, both at national and international levels, is deficient, to say the least.

Against the estimated cost of losses caused by blooding and rehabilitation and revival of normality while the international assistance is grossly meagre – not even 2 percent – the national concern is fast fading into a bygone event.

Excepting the UNSG Antonio Guterres’ stirring visit to flooded areas and his passionate appeal to the world community to share Pakistan’s burden there is not much on record to be recalled. And on the home front the ‘cypher-dominated’ politics is fast relegating the plight of the affected 33 million Pakistanis to the inside pages of newspapers. These unfortunate people are expected to live with the misfortune for many years to come.

But that should not be allowed to happen. By ignoring this humanitarian tragedy and not undertaking the measures which are within its reach to rehabilitate the victims of climate change the people and government of Pakistan would be guilty of committing a crime against humanity. There are quite a few doable means to restore normality in the flood-devastated areas.

These include dewatering of farmlands and villages in Sindh to ensure sowing of Rabi crops, particularly wheat, and construction of demolished homesteads. Given that land level of affected areas is not much above the sea level but this water can be pumped into channels connected with waterways that take the water to the sea.

Otherwise, minus the wheat crop the province of Sindh is likely to cause large scale food crisis, and the worst is feared early next year. The second challenge is to ensure that the affected people can go back to their homes. Sometime back there was the talk of providing people with prefabricated material; but can that happen? By and large the people like to reconstruct their abodes the way these were before the onslaught of torrential rains and flash floods.

Ideally, the government should provide interest-free house-building loans to these people. Of immediate concern however is health of the people who sleep in the open, drink polluted water and are easy prey for mosquitoes.

No doubt efforts have been made to set up mobile clinics but reports say that the number of volunteers who came there to help the sick is declining. There is the need to dewater farmlands, help reconstruct houses and ensure availability of medical care and drugs, but no less critical is the need to rebuild and put in place workable infrastructure like road connections, hospitals, schools and energy supply.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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