July 26, 2011

Monsoon threatens Pakistan once again

by Jan Harris

Last year’s monsoon caused the deaths of 2,000 people in Pakistan and left 11 million without homes.

Charities and international agencies are warning that the country is once again facing the monsoon season, but with many flood defences still unrepaired after last year’s floods, the outlook is bleak.

The United Nations believes that around five million people could be affected if the rains are as heavy this year as they were last year.

Many people are still living in temporary shelter which will offer little protection from further flooding.

Christian Aid has voiced its concern that the country is unprepared, with poorer communities expected to suffer most severely, should the heavy rains return.

The problem has been exacerbated by industry and agriculture diverting the course of rivers, making them more likely to flood.

Oxfam is calling for reconstruction to be stepped up and for more money to be spent on suitable housing and early-warning systems.

Neva Khan, head of Oxfam in Pakistan, said: “Pakistan needs to act now. Investing in measures today that reduce the impact of disasters is essential to save lives and safeguard development gains in the future.”

The charity has releasing a new report entitled “Ready or Not”, which warns that a UN appeal for flood vicitims had a shortfall of $600 million.

A weak response by Pakistan’s government to last year’s disaster and fear that funds could be diverted by corruption has adversely affected the level of aid.

With international aid currently focused on the unfolding famine across the horn of Africa, there is real concern that the response to a new crisis in Pakistan could be inadequate.

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