A fully-fledged humanitarian disaster is breaking out in north-west Pakistan, with at least 1,500 dead and 20,000 stranded following monsoon rains. One of our Observers there tells us why the disaster was all-too-predictable.
The floods, which started on Wednesday, have left 1.5 million people without clean drinking water, sparking an outbreak of water-spread diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea. Rescue teams have so far rescued 28,000 people, and the UN, China and the US have all pledged millions to help relieve and rebuild the affected areas.
Rescue operation on a major Peshawar road. Video posted on YouTube by cih95b1.
Posted on YouTube by SAMINUNOCHA 2 July 2010.
Tahir Imran Mian is a PR manager from Okara, Punjab province. He studied in Nowshera for nine years and is now based in London. He travelled around the critically affected city of Nowshera and its surrounding areas with Pakistan army forces on Saturday. He gave us this account from Islamabad.
All this money promised from outside countries will honestly not help if it is given to the authorities without supervision or monitoring terms. In any case, even if stuff does get done it will be cosmetic. Yes, it will help the local people, but not the underlying problem.
The worst thing about this disaster is that the authorities knew this could happen; the same thing happens every time these floods come. The authorities don't take any precautionary measures. They could have saved a whole area of people by telling them ‘you should move uphill'. That was not done. And if there is rain next year, exactly the same thing will happen.
There is another problem affecting the region and specially these areas, which complicates things further. The local people and politicians specially the ruling party in the province fiercely oppose the construction of a dam that the central government has been trying to get built. That dam known on papers as Kalabagh dam would actually prevent the kind of floods we're seeing now, and create both local jobs and plenty of energy and water for agricultural usage throughout the year. But for the time being, due to politics and regional issue the dam is on papers and its construction is not possible. The dam is going to be built near Mianwali in Punjab province which is also heavily affected by recent floods."