FLOOD DEALS SEVERE BLOW TO THE ECONOMY

SHAMSUL GHANI
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Oct 3 - 9, 20
11

The economy was yet to recover from the traumatic effects of flood-10 that pushed the GDP growth down to a low of 2.4 percent, when a fresh wave of flood-11 hit it with a renewed force.

Flood-2010 caused economy a huge loss of $10 billion, displaced as many as 20 million people and submerged in water more than 50,000 km of land. The flood-11 losses, as summarized on the basis of NDMA-provided figures, present a grim picture of the social and economic upheaval the resource-deficient people of Sindh have gone through.

The situation has been created less by the elements of nature and more by the shameful lack of concern on part of those responsible for the social security and economic well-being of people.

Floods hide behind their destructive exterior an invigorating force, which can positively impact people's economic interests and quality of life. When left to chart their own course, floods wreak vengeance on human populations, lands, crops and livestock. Pre-planning to control floods and to use them profitably is far better than the setting-up of post-flood relief camps.

FLOOD-11: SUMMARY OF LOSSES

DISTRICT VILLAGES AFFECTED PEOPLE AFFECTED AREA AFFECTED (ACRES) CROP AREA DAMAGED (ACRES) HOUSES DAMAGED PEOPLE DIED CATTLE HEAD PERISHED NO OF RELIEF CAMPS
Badin 6395 1021301 984805 375718 382562 55 7467 100
Dadu 631 325000 187811 97248 17562 19 131 391
Ghotki 1361 172067 259217 68679 32060 11 1 -
Hyderabad 1022 677600 199258 26227 4403 11 32 76
Jacobabad 1 335 600 3594 1688 2 - -
Jamshoro 614 97350 30086 39133 43950 12 81 21
Kamber 543 145030 150600 4192 7439 6 218 -
Kashmore 105 12610 29280 14532 1620 4 4 -
Khairpur - 927953 388638 182891 11429 9 316 52
Larkana 408 54355 12793 5396 5794 6 92 -
Matiari 415 109629 160970 83739 32803 25 297 315
Mirpurkhas 4316 705151 819833 17152 118110 58 12280 101
N.Feroz 3186 671499 698434 73660 31455 26 363 173
Sanghar 5503 1014421 927201 356473 172723 40 812 636
Sh. Benazir 4104 900000 - 171076 300000 38 22630 660
Shikarpur 7 75 2500 20218 30 3 28 -
Sukkur - - - 26803 - 1 - -
Tando A-Yar 1512 372045 369685 81645 70163 2 179 236
Tando M.Khan 2835 585411 390997 78038 72935 17 85 197
Tharparkar 1357 127454 51782 12647 15458 22 30623 36
Thatta 629 177758 198111 164889 11257 18 65 12
Umerkot 2869 823683 927966 108303 191327 23 17334 113
Total 37813 8920627 6791067 2166623 1524768 408 93028 3119
Source: NDMA

Commenting on FY-11 growth of 2.4 percent, Pakistan Economic Survey 2010-11 writes: "Although much below its potential, the performance signifies the enormous resilience in the economy as it was tested several times by one crisis after another beginning with the earthquake of 2005. With some reprieve and continuing effort, there is reason to believe that the country will revert to its potential growth trajectory."

The wished-for reprieve is not on the cards, anyway, as the flood appears to have turned into a serial killer bent upon to strike again and again.

Sindh, which is reeling under the flood, has become the flashpoint as a result of political bickering and blame fixing. It was openly said last year and is again being openly said this year that the influential managed to turn the flood tide to the areas of the poor and unsheltered to save their own property. This can only be proved (or disproved) after the findings of a Commission.

However, last year, any conclusive findings did not come to the fore and this year too, one should not expect to see any material deviation in the course of responsibility fixing. Apart from that, the history of feudal lords and their masterly ways of dealing with their subjects prompts one to believe what is being said.

Sindh's weak irrigation network overly exposes itself to the ravages of monsoons. The neglected Guddu, Sukkur and Kotri barrages and the inter-linked canals have been a perennial threat to the adjoining areas. The floods have mercilessly exposed the human failure to properly maintain barrage and canal systems. Most of the embankments along the irrigation network did become a soft target for the flood waves that caused dangerous breaches to threaten the lives and property of thousands of villagers.

Surprisingly, it is not the lack of funds allocation for the revamping of system, rather it is the non-utilization or under-utilization of allocated funds - a patent feudalistic ploy to keep poorly-resourced small farmers under their exploitative control.

The most unfortunate fallout of the floods is the retrieval of our begging bowl from the rubbles of the past disasters. Instead of focusing on mass misery alleviation programs, our government functionaries and bureaucrats are bracing to amass as much dollar donations as possible. There will always remain a question mark on the use of these dollars. The earthquake-05 and flood-10 victims will testify how they have benefited from the global aid that found way into Pakistan. Not-so-spontaneous global response is essentially influenced by the lack of global trust in Pakistan government's ability to use the aid judiciously. To strengthen their mistrust, we have a documented history of aid misuse.

The damage assessments at this stage would be an exercise in futility as it will take an intensive effort involving men, money and material to carry out an extensive survey which is only possible after the flood intensity diminishes and infrastructure road blocks are removed. Although NDMA is compiling loss-assessment data on daily basis, but whatever estimates are being offered and quantified in money terms only encompass the visible losses. The losses that will take some time to surface are likely to be far greater than the visible losses. The economic cost will just be a component of the total losses - those now visible and those waiting to become visible.