Angle: Pakistan floods and reconstruction difficulties push homes and jobs | Reuters

CHALSADA, Pakistan (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – In late August, the swollen Swat River in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, northwest Pakistan, turned and rushed through the village of Naeem Ullah, 40, plunging into Ula. 14 houses of M. and his relatives were swept away. a way.

In Pakistan, months of rainfall and unusually warm spring temperatures accelerated the melting of glaciers, triggering floods that submerged a third of the country and affected 33 million people. FILE PHOTO: People flee floods with their belongings in Sobatpur, central Myanmar, September 4, 2022. REUTERS/Amer Hussain

Mr. Ullah also destroyed the sugar cane he was growing on a five-hectare leased plot. They have lost their jobs and their homes and are unlikely to repay the money they borrowed to buy seeds and fertilizers.

“I have to start my life over from scratch,” says Ullah. “I lost everything. I can only pray to Allah to give me the strength to face the greatest challenge of my life.”

A third of Pakistan was submerged and 33 million people were affected, after months of rain and unusually warm spring temperatures accelerated the melting of glaciers, triggering floods.

More than 1,300 people died and damages estimated at $10 billion, according to those responsible for the disaster. 1.6 million houses were damaged, 5,000 kilometers of roads were damaged and 700,000 head of cattle were killed.

Millions of families have lost their homes and belongings, and many are struggling to find dry places to put up temporary tarps.

Important roads and bridges have been swept away, aid efforts have stalled and authorities have been forced to deploy expensive helicopters as the main means of transport in some areas and deploy limited emergency aid.

In the worst-hit district of Awaran in southwestern Baluchistan, floodwaters have reached the horizon in some areas and destroyed many houses of poor people.

Dishad Bulcha (21), a university student in the capital Islamabad, was assaulted on his way back to his village. Floods hit the village in July, swept away Burcha’s house and killed a neighbour.

Bulcha said the pooling of water could hit power lines and cause an electric shock. Bridges to the main city of Karachi are impassable and major freight routes remain cut off.

Helicopters drop sacks of rice and beans, but “the amount is too low”, he said. There was no kitchen, no dry firewood, and villagers complained in intermittent phone calls that they couldn’t cook. “Many residents are angry, but most people feel helpless. There is no one to help them. They are abandoned.”

Pakistan is heavily in debt. International aid agencies are already inundated with requests for help from around the world, and Pakistani families may have to cover much of the reconstruction costs themselves.

According to a disaster official in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, current state policy allows farmers to receive compensation of 5,000 rupees ($23) per acre for damage to crops and orchards, equivalent to 5,000 rupees per household. rupees. The amount of compensation may be increased if a detailed calculation of the amount of damages is made.

The state government also announced compensation of up to $1,370 per home for home damage. Since July, it has earmarked 1.75 billion rupees ($7.9 million) for rescue and relief efforts.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) last week agreed to provide $1.1 billion in aid to cash-strapped Pakistan.

But farmers, in particular, fear that they will not receive enough support. Some say the fields are desolate and need to be restored before planting can resume.

Sher Alam, 47, from a village on the outskirts of Charsada, was unable to harvest his sugar cane when his land was flooded on August 26.

He has already borrowed $450 to pay off his debt to buy seeds and fertilizer, and is applying for another loan of $230 to restore farmland.

Aram, who has five children, found work in a private parking lot in Charzada to support her daily needs. The crops damaged by the floods serve only as fodder for livestock.

Sitting under a tree in front of his house, he expressed his anxiety saying, “I don’t know how I’m going to survive.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the floods have damaged around 2 million acres of crops in Pakistan, affecting not only the economy but also potentially food security.

Burcha, from Balochistan, said fruits, vegetables and meat were in short supply and prices were skyrocketing, especially among the poor.

Flooding in the Burcha region could contaminate the wells they depend on and pose a health risk, he said. “People will suffer and many will die.”

Many flood-affected people were less alert because they had not been given adequate warning or had issued warnings repeatedly after months of heavy rains.

The village of Alam did not receive an official government warning for the late August floods, but was alerted by nearby villages. Thanks to social media alerts, the village of Alam was able to safely move livestock and supplies in about three hours.

A disaster official in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province said monitoring systems in five rivers and two others in the province helped provide early warning. Around 180,000 people were evacuated from Charzada region due to the warning.

(Report by Imran Mukhtar)

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