"If NGOs were a political party, we’d vote for them!" --Villagers hit by 2010 floods in Pakistan feel abandoned by govt

28 June 2012 | Article

Around 240 kilometres from Karachi in Pakistan’s south, people residing in village Aloo Mallah still suffer the aftermath of 2010’s devastating floods and remain estranged from their elected representatives who have failed to rehabilitate their lives or provide them protection.

Narrating her tale of survival from the floods, Bacchi, a frail and aging resident of Aloo Mallah, said that they fled their lands with nothing except their lives and clothes on their backs.

The village head and its namesake, Aloo Mallah, told that NGOs like the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have lent a helping hand since the disaster struck over a year ago. According to him, apart from one Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader, who donated one month’s rations in Badin, no state representative has come to their aid or even paid them a visit.

If NGOs were a political party, we’d vote for them,” said Bacchi. While they remain grateful for all they have received from various organisations over the past year, residents cannot help but feel abandoned by the government.

Fearing another disaster may be heading their way, the village community are pleading for protection at this most vulnerable time.

Refusing to wait on the government for help and determined to take matters into their own hands, people are looking for ways to protect themselves.

Helping people in this regard are organisations like PFF, Oxfam and UNDP, which have introduced Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) programmes in several villages in interior Sindh.

As the monsoon cycle is in full spate once again, many areas across the country lie at the risk of reliving the devastation that occurred last year. Twenty-four kilometres further down is the Ishaque Thaheemore village, which has been trained under the DRR programme.

Razia Thaheemore, a village resident, said that the training has benefitted the community immensely, and villagers now felt that they were prepared to handle another flood. Razia along with other women has also been trained in how to assist women in times of disaster. The villagers, along with PFF social worker Roshan Bano, help raise awareness among women and children about basic health and hygiene so as to reduce incidence of disease.

The programme’s main objective is to make communities more resilient in disaster management and it has proved to be fairly successful. Residents have been provided with houses, alternate sources of livelihoods, first aid training and appear to be less vulnerable to emergency situations.

With the recent floods that have devastated many parts of interior Sindh, the need to protect these vulnerable communities is evidently clear. Key institutional actors and stakeholders need to work together to establish an effective DRR framework.

By Desiree Francis