FLOODS PUSH LEAST DEVELOPED BALOCHISTAN YEARS BACK

SYED FAZL-E-HAIDER
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Aug 30 - Sep 05, 20
10

Like rest of the country, Balochistan is also reeling from the disaster brought about by the worst floods in the country's history. The province is more affected for being least developed and the poorest in the country. The floods would have lasting impact on the weak provincial economy pushing the province many years back. The cost of human and economic disaster brought about by worst floods is continuously rising, as no significant effort on the part of the government has so far been made to resume relief and rehabilitation operations in the flood-hit areas. Hundreds of cases of gastroenteritis, skin diseases, eye infections and other waterborne diseases had been reported from flood-stricken areas of the province. Breakout of Cholera and other epidemics after deadly floods have multiplied sufferings of already ravaged people in the province. The flood-affectees are facing an acute shortage of food, drinking water and medicines. Thousands of homeless people still wait for food supplies.

Thousands of families trapped in flood-affected areas are yet to be rescued. Local administration with limited resources is trying to rescue them. Pakistan army is carrying out relief operations in the districts but it lacks the befitting capacity and resources to battle the disaster of unprecedented magnitude.

Naseerabad and Jafferabad, the only two canal-irrigated agri districts in Balochistan, are the most affected areas due to flooding.

Agriculture is likely to take a big hit. Floodwater level in Dera Allahyar, district headquarter of Jaffarabad, is on constant surge which is receiving no tangible operations from government officials for its outflow. The district is disconnected with other parts of the country for last two weeks while acute shortage of drinking water and shortage of food and medicines have worsened the situation.

The death toll in Jaffarabad is on the rise, mainly due to gastroenteritis and other diseases which have broken out in the area. Pakistan army has set up a tent city in Dera Murad Jamali where people from Dera AllahYar, Usta Muhammed and Sindh province are camped. The local political leadership including MNAs and MPAs has left the area leaving the people of their constituencies in lurch.

A National Disaster Management Fund needs to be established for disaster related financing. The Fund would deal with key areas like prevention and mitigation, emergency response, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Gandakha, Dera Allahyar, Rojhan Jamali and Sohbatpur are the least developed and hence the most affected areas due to flooding in the province. One can see that poor households and communities are more vulnerable to natural hazards, as they take a long period to recover from the deadly effects of disasters. The government must take steps for supporting the poor, reducing their vulnerability and recovering from disasters.

Poor infrastructure and lack of communication network has ever contributed to the Balochistan's vulnerability to the catastrophic effects of natural hazards. It is the incidence of widespread poverty, the degradation of the environment resulting from the mismanagement of natural resources, inefficient public policies, and lagging and misguided investments in infrastructure, which have frequently been transforming a natural event into a human and economic disaster in the least developed province.

The situation in affected areas calls attention to bring about a shift in the government's existing disaster-related policies, which mainly focus on emergency response, to a more strategic and rapid response to disasters and a strategy for promoting the integration of disaster prevention and mitigation efforts into the range of development activities.

The disaster caused by floods has again exposed the issues related to the development planning and disaster management in Balochistan. It has also drawn attention to the need for the integration of disaster prevention and mitigation efforts into the range of development activities. The calamity-hit province requires a development planning on long-term and sustainable basis.

The disaster has also pointed out the key issues related to the disaster management in the province. These issues include lack of strategic directions, inadequate infrastructure to handle disaster and lack of coordination of different services. What is needed is a more proactive and comprehensive approach to disaster management, encompassing both pre-disaster risk reduction and post-disaster recovery.

The province needs to build a permanent technical and operational capacity to manage risk reduction more effectively in future. This would promote a process of sustainable development of the province.

The economic managers in Quetta should also allocate funds for the disaster prevention and mitigation in the next fiscal year's development budget, as a need is felt to integrate risk reduction in development planning and investments.

The degradation of natural resources has also increased the risk of disaster in the province. The current increase in the frequency of disasters may reflect changing climate patterns. It is a short term-approach to merely treating its symptoms when disasters happen. There is a need to break the cycle of destruction and reconstruction and address the root causes of vulnerability.

Development planners should keep in focus the unique geology of the province while planning a development scheme. It is because of its unique geological features that Balochistan is more prone to natural disasters such as floods, droughts, cyclones, and earthquakes.

The province has four geological regions- the Central Mountain Ranges, Chaghi hills and Raskoh Ranges, Mekran Mountain Ranges and the Kharan Basin. There are many areas in northern Balochistan including Quetta, which are located in active seismic zone. Mekran coastal basin comprises of the central and coastal Mekran ranges and the Pab hills and the sub-mountainous areas in the southwest. The Hub, Porali, Hingol and Dasht are the principal rivers of the basin with erratic discharges. During recent flashfloods and heavy rains, the major seasonal rivers were in high flood, with Hingol recording a discharge of more than 0.3 million cusecs.

There is a dire need for developing national strategies for risk reduction, which will necessitate building a national legal and regulatory framework for bringing together the economic planning departments, provincial governments and civil society organisations. It will ultimately assess the inter-sectoral priorities and allocate separate budgets for risk reduction. There is a high need for developing national strategies for risk reduction, which will necessitate building a national legal and regulatory framework for bringing together the economic planning departments, provincial governments and civil society organisations. It will ultimately assess the inter-sectoral priorities and allocate separate budgets for risk reduction.