:::: MENU ::::

Some thoughts into Planning for the Flood Relief in Sindh

Over the past two days our team of volunteers at Motorsports Club of Pakistan and the OffroadPakistan have been in some intense discussion on what might be the best course of action. We have been busy raising funds locally and commitments have reached to a tune of close to Rs. 2.5 million. The online drive at SARelief has touched $2278 from a few generous donors, as the message spreads im sure this easy PayPal payment option, so close to the Islamic month of Ramadan will most likely get a considerable level of funding for the devastation in Pakistan.

Flood has started to reach Sindh from the last two days, the winding Indus river which curves and twists across Sindh is likely to significantly change the terrain for a long time to come, it is anticipated that with the immense pressure of the water it is definite that the water will overrun the pre charted course of the Indus River and alter its embankments cutting a new course towards the sea spreading its wings wide across the plains of Sindh in its due course.

A few major concerns do remain, the question that lurks in the minds of many, will the barrages hold up. It seems the Sukkur barrage is as of now holding strong, credit can be equated to calculated and unplanned rupture of a few embankments upstream which have helped soften the pressure of the main flood, these leaks will continue to seep the pressure and lessen the impact in sindh, sadly it also does mean more flooding in the affected areas.

The most damage is happening in many low lying areas or the katcha villages, the population that inhabited these areas was forewarned and has been able to scamper towards safety meaning minimal loss of human life as seen in the Pakhtoonkhwa region where the poor folks never expected these floods, The devastation of property and crops will be exorbitantly high all across the country.

There are reports that the Government of Pakistan has provided these disaster area with sufficient funds for evacuation and basic support, some of the nazims, MPAs and MNAs have utilize the funds judiciously and these areas are fortunate to be faring well, but quite a large area of Sindh lies at the hand of corrupt leaders and feudalz who chose to siphon off the disaster relief into their own pockets, these localities are mostly suffering it is also being reported that it is these areas where the screams for aid is the largest. Its sad that even at times of disaster the corrupt are heartless even in such a situation.

Another concern that has come to light from a few strategic planners is to monitor the situation as the flood finally makes its way into the Arabian Sea, the mere mammoth amount of flood water colliding with the ocean will create a backlash, with high tide coming in there are good chances that the area surrounding areas will be inundated for example Keti Bunder, which are large plains at sea level will be at best drowned, Karachi is too far to be threatened but the marsh areas near the mouth of the Indus will be bad

There are various concerns with taking relief deep into Sindh, firstly one must asses the vehicular traffic going up north as two highways serve Sindh, Indus and the National Highway. The proximity of the Indus River to both must be monitored with care, the looping Indus River might wash away some major sections of the highway making the areas beyond it inaccessible. The road beyond Sukkur is already inaccessibly meaning Kashmore, Gothki and Shikarpur are already cut away from Karachi, as the flood flows southward more regions are to be affected hence impacting the delivery of relief goods and volunteer transportation, we would not like to risk the noble effort but accidentally creating more of a mess.

The flooding will generally subside in 10-12 days, though Sukkur barrage still awaits one major push of water which is expected to hit the area in few days, after which water levels will go down. The displaced people who have run to high ground with bare minimal belongings in tow will return after the flooding reduces and then hope to rebuild their homes

At the moment these refugees need cooked food, as there is no wood and shortage of eatables, if relief agencies plan then a kitchen is one best sought after relief, manning this for 10-12 days cooking 2 meals a day of rice and daal, one only needs a dependable volunteer commitment and decent logistical support, security I am told will be provided by the local administration as there is a definite chance of stampede at each meal.

The flood affected people also need medical assistance, snake bites, mosquitoes, and relief from other water borne diseases. It has been repeatedly suggested not to over burden these people with other relief goods while they are in temporary shelter as in a few days they will return, if they are showered with large quantities of relief rations it will be next to impossible for them to carry it all back, in these days the greed of stockpiling will overcome the actual needs of these poor dislocated people. Opportune time for relief goods, building material and other essential items can be strategically sent 10-12 days later when they are closer to their houses

Our effort with the Motorsports Club of Pakistan is to send out a scouting team with some minimal aid to evaluate and help the needy in whatever way possible, mostly medical assistance, return safely with sufficient information to plan for the larger push 10 odd days later after the flood has subsided and the roads are capable of transporting relief trucks up into deeper areas of Sindh.

It is expected that Faisal Kapadia and I [Awab Alvi] along with a few more friends cram into 3-4 offroad vehicles to embark on the scouting trip into sindh for 2-3 days, where then we can better gauge the impact of flood in the region. I hope to keep everyone posted as more information becomes available with time .

PS- This post has been a summary of the abundant discussion we have had over the past two days in planning for the Flood Relief effort to Sindh, if I am mistaken at a certain point or if I am wrong to have reached a certain conclusion then please correct me, my attempt is to share all the information as best as I have understood