August 17, 2010 by staff
Pakistan Flooding, The floodwater is Ehsan Ali and his family by surprise. “At first we thought the water was not so serious,” says the farmer, 44, who worked in the rice fields that extend throughout the district Shikarpur. “Then suddenly made an announcement in mosques, telling us to run for our lives. A large amount of water that was coming.” When the water runs through the farms of the Pakistani province of Sindh, drowning thousands of hectares of crops, tens of thousands of pilgrims every possession they had and fled.
The evacuees now languishing in makeshift shelters. Many have settled on the side of dirt roads, protecting themselves from a scorching sun, to reaffirm a bed on the head or cover under a car. Others are grouped under a sheet of tin by a railway station similar abandoned or decaying school buildings. Doctors say they are already seeing outbreaks of scabies and diarrhea among the displaced. Women have had to go to do work in public places, giving birth in the classroom to share with other families, for example. When they get relief goods provided from a private donation, the struggle is how little panic to gather food that each person can handle in the second available. With each passing day, the anger over government neglect of horses.
It was in an attempt to contain the anger that President Asif Ali Zardari, made a brief visit to Sindh, his home province, last week. Adjustment via helicopter in Sukkur and under heavy guard, the leader glimpsed the devastation, presented checks to the children who suffer, stroking their heads to console them, and then returned to Islamabad. On Sunday, Zardari accompanied by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in southern Punjab, where Ban said: “This has been a day heartbreaking for me … In the past, I have witnessed many natural disasters worldwide, but nothing like this. “Before the floods, Zardari’s popularity stood at only 20%. However, it should be on the floor. In the coming weeks, if you want to retrieve the position of his government to be set in Pakistan in a situation where you can begin to rebuild their economies, drawing billions of dollars from the international community and help the millions affected by water back to their lives. Many doubt if the president is up to par.
Last week, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, said the floods had destroyed crops worth approximately one billion. Pakistan By conservative estimates, the figure is at least twice. Some 17 million acres of farmland have been submerged and more than 100,000 animals have died. On the way Rahimabad, buffalo carcases found on the side of the road, rescued by wild dogs under the clouds of flies. Approximately a quarter of Pakistan’s economy and almost half of its workforce dependent on agriculture one.
Pakistan’s economy was fragile and dependent on a package of 11.3 billion and supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Before the floods, the country was struggling to meet the fiscal requirements, the discipline of the package. Pakistan has a swollen section of the public, a narrow tax base and a chronic balance-of-payments problem. “Now, alter all calculations, all projections, all scenarios,” Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Minister of Finance of Pakistan, tells TIME. “It is too early to fully assess the impact of the disaster, but the damage is colossal, it is still unfolding. Are added billions and billions of dollars.” So far, 40 countries have contributed to 222 million, according to figures compiled by the Pakistan government – a fraction of what is needed. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry is still pondering whether to accept the offer from India and 5 million. The UN hopes to raise another 460 million and for Pakistan.
The difficult economic conditions have provided the political opposition a chance. Striking a nationalist pose, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated that his country does not need foreign aid. Among a wide swath of Pakistani public opinion, holding out a helping hand is a loss of dignity and therefore expensive. Zardari is already overwhelmed by the impression that the West is too dependent on political enemies and believe that your asking the world for help to further damage the president. “It’s a nut approach,” says an aide to Zardari about political opposition to the aid. “If people are there to help and want to help, why do you want to make them feel uncomfortable?
There is little chance of a change of government. The opposition has to avoid being seen as exploiting a national tragedy, and the army is too busy to resort to a coup. But while Zardari is likely to remain in power, can be left too weak for useful exercise.
The economic consequences of the floods will be felt over the coming months. Not only are the current revenue has been lost, but people also have to bear the higher prices until the economic infrastructure is rebuilt. “There is a massive loss of infrastructure,” says Sheikh. “The dams will be repaired in the northwest, not a single bridge has survived along the Indus River, the roads have to be rebuilt, and schools need repair in the field.” The damage to the agricultural economy means that food prices are set to rise. “We had plans to export surplus wheat,” added Sheikh. “It was an economic opportunity as Russia has suspended wheat exports, increasing its price. We can not export wheat now because we have to feed our own people.” observers have raised the grim prospect of food shortages and the resulting civil unrest.
Sheikh insists that the tragedy could offer a glimmer of hope. “It could be an opportunity to make tough decisions,” he says. “For example, could push through a sales tax, introduce a charge by the floods in people well and get a scope from the IMF and the international community’s support.” The reconstruction effort, said the sheikh, may lead to “a stimulus to economic activity,” to strengthen the sectors related to construction. For agriculture, the outlook may include the possibility of wells for more water and sediment left by the floods will land in some arable areas.
But for now, there is only destruction and damage. “That’s where my land that used to be,” says Hamir Soomro, pointing to the mass of surrounding water. For as far as the eye travels in any direction, his family 1,200 hectares of rice and wheat farmland have been submerged. Only the tips of the stems of rice can be seen. In the distance, there are trees and the remains of brick houses collapsed. The village has a strange, haunted feeling of abandonment. Even the police have left the area. “All that is left is a sunset, Soomro said, touching his forehead to get a clearer picture of the full, the orange sun dip into the distance, causing ripples in the water to glow gently.
There was nothing we could do to tame nature’s fury, but Soomro said that Zardari’s government has deepened the disaster through poor management. A retaining wall was cut supposedly in the wrong direction and instead of water spilling into the desert and snakes its way to the sea, has spread through Shikarpur and other populated areas. Now, with a second wave of floods, the historic city of Jacobabad has been evacuated. In other areas, says Soomro, petty rivalries have been landowners to divert water to other land in the attempts at self-preservation. The government and bureaucracy have failed to coordinate an effort to water misuse.
Soomro and other farmers throughout the country as he will not be able to harvest their crops in one year. “90% of the land is under water,” he says. “The rice crop is gone. I have no wheat seed on the left, because that is under water.” Usually going to grow wheat in the winter. “Then there is also damage to equipment.” Soomro lands employ some 3,000 people and the people of Rahimabad is home to another 7,000 people indirectly depend on the land. In previous years, the crops suffer from chronic water shortages in Pakistan. The heat causes most of the water to evaporate before reaching the roots. Other crops such as sugar cane can not try because they drain the excess water. The irony is that now can take months for it to dry land.
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