Abandoned Under the Water

by Aanya F Niaz

It is the one year anniversary of the worst floods that hit Pakistan last summer, 2011. Nobody was prepared for the waters, which claimed hundreds of lives and thousands of livelihoods. As media trickles into the lives of the traumatized, we are reminded that for them, the nightmare is not over. In fact, one year later, the water is still pouring in.

“Nothing has changed in the months…” (BBC News, Southern Punjab, Pakistan). According to the official UN report, 20 million lives are affected, 722,000 houses damaged and over 30,000 people evacuated. To make matters even worse, 6 million people do not have access to clean water and 3.5 million children are at risk of contracting deadly water-borne diseases. The UN further establishes that over 6 million people are in need of food supplies. Indeed, the basic necessities for survival are not available to the masses of Pakistani citizens, that await, day after day, night after night, for some Government assistance to feed themselves and their families. Women are suffering even more, since they are busy feeding their husbands and children, leaving little or no food for themselves.

With the War against Terrorism gaining tide, relations between Pakistan and the US taking a downward slide, it is evident that the Government of Pakistan has different priorities. In fact, the political elite are busy establishing new political parties, making empty promises, winning loyalties and hope on a farce while the people of Pakistan have no food, electricity, shelter or water. Needless to say, the water shortage will hit Pakistan sooner than they realize. Some media claim that the next India-Pak conflict will be over water shortage. The Foreign Policy blog dictates that there has been a 50% drop in renewable water resources since 2005, and it is likely that if the situation continues, by 2015 Pakistan will have another crisis at hand since most of it’s industry is based in Agriculture.

The reality is that the private sector is managing the crisis. Organizations from the US and inside of Pakistan are rampant and continually engaging in post-trauma activities. However, it is not enough and rarely sustainable. The funds pouring into these organizations do not enjoy permanence, therefore, unless the government takes over the reigns and designates a certain amount of the Annual Budget, the disaster will only exacerbate.

I ask the Government, in fact, I plead: Please do not silence the poor, the needy, the deserving. These are our brothers and sisters, who work 18 hours a day on the field, providing us with our basic crop. They are not sending their children to school to work on the farms, sowing seeds, cultivating fruits and vegetables, growing wheat and rice, raising cattle – all for us. If we take their lives away, we’ll take away our own. So wake up, because if you don’t, it will be too late.