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Tuesday 20, August 2019



Ravages of Rain in Sindh

By: Anam Tanveer, Uploaded: 20th September 2011

While terror-stricken Karachi is having brief lull from the killing spree of poor and innocent people due to operation, Interior Sindh has been hit hardly by the merciless torrential monsoon rains causing colossal death, destruction and displacement of millions of people. Hardly people have recovered from the shocks of last year flood, the current spell of rain have broken the economic back of people. They have lost crops, livestock, their homes have been destroyed and now they are living under open skies with no one coming to their help.

Lower and Central Sindh is considered as economic backbone of Pakistan. No wonder rain has made humanity and infrastructure suffered but it has also hit economy of Pakistan, specifically Sindh to major extent.

According to reports of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) 100 percent seasonal vegetable crop such as onion, tomato, chilies, etc, have been destroyed in addition to the 80 percent of cotton crop in Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Badin, Thatta, Nousheroferz, Nawabshah, Khairpur, Shikarpur, Khandhkot-Kashmore, Larkana and Dadu. Cotton is grown on 1.8 million acres in all the districts of the province.

In addition to wholesale destruction of 70 percent vegetable, 2.4 million cotton, 50 percent of standing paddy crop worth 1 billion, which is cultivated on around 2 million acres in various part of the Sindh, including Larkana, Shikarpur, Qamber-Shahdadkot, Jacobabad, Kashmore-Kandhkot and Dadu districts has ravaged by the vagaries of rain. Damages and destruction is not confined to vegetables, cotton and paddy but sugarcane has bore the brunt of rain and floods.

According to reports 70 percent of sugarcane, grown on 0.7 million acres in districts of Badin, Tando Mohammad Khan, Tando Allahyar, Matiari, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas and Hyderabad. Rain has caused destruction to orchards which spread over 125 million acres worth. According to agriculture expert, topical rains in Sindh spoiled Rs 256 billion worth of major Kharif crops and vegetables in total. According to some reports 17 districts washed off due to floods. 200,000 acres of cotton, 900,000 aces of paddy and 150,000 acres of sugarcane grew from the rain affected areas of Badin. Other than that tomatoes and onions were also grew from these areas at 80,000 and silage at 15,000 acres which entirely washed away in ruthless rains. In Badin and Thatta alone, in addition to cotton 80,000 acres of paddy was wiped off. The mourning doesn’t end here, as the worth of these commodities was as follows: cotton Rs. 75,000 per acre, onions and tomatoes 60,000 per acres, silage worth 35,000 per acres, and paddy Rs. 60,000 per acre. Virtually, the aggregate lose account for Rs. 90 billion of vegetables, crops in Umerkot, Mirpurkhas, Thar, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allahyar and parts of Sanghar region.

Rain and floods have also killed people, destroyed their homes and caused so many water-related diseases. According to reports, so far more than 300 people have killed as a result of roof falling and electrocution. In addition to two million people in rain-flood affected districts have displaced and forced to live either in tents or under open skies without proper hygiene and sanitations conditions resulting into outbreak of epidemics that have aggravated the miseries of the affected people as diarrhea, gastroenteritis, malaria and skin diseases are spreading rapidly. Reports further say 600.000 people have so far been displaced, 400,000 houses have been destroyed, 1600 people have been wiped out from the face of this earth and more than 10,000 domestic cattle, including cows, buffalos, sheep, goats, donkeys and hoses have been killed by lethal rain in the affected districts.

According to experts, the aggravation in the scale of destruction and devastation has been caused by breaches in the LBDO and RBDO due to their faulty designs and negligence on the part of irrigation department by not carrying out the desilting of canals, due to which breaches occurred, inundating the agriculture land and destroying standing vegetable, cotton, sugarcane and paddy crops. The performance of (Provincial Disaster Management Authority) is absolutely miserable to an extent that they are on the verge of begging from UN and international NGO’s on the plight of interior Sindh caused by floods, argued Fayyaz Hussain Abro President Pakistan International Peace and Human Rights, as quoted in Dawn (September 8). According to government source, in Badin alone 214,940 acres of eminence crops of grains, potatoes, cotton, sugarcane, vegetables etc has been destroyed and 3,710 villages have been flooded.

The question arises if things like these happening then what is the core responsibility of concerned authorities such as NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority) and PDMA (Provisional Disaster Management Authority): either they have to facilitate people or watching as spectator the wholesome destruction of crops and untold human miseries? It seems likes that the responsibilities of NDMA and PDMA have drowned with floods. Government of Sindh has declared 22 districts out of 23 as calamity hit areas and announced relief package of Rs 5 billion for flood-affected people but there is criticism that this amount is just peanut keeping in view the scale of disaster which is bound to induce inflation, price hike which will invariably add fuel to the fire of poverty already caused by IMF programs of structural adjustment.

Sindh has been facing such devastation since long and even last year rained and floods played more havoc. The reason is that people don’t have capacities to protect themselves against natural calamities, for state has not invested much in enhancing the capacities of people so that they can defend themselves against such calamities. According to Amartya Sen, noble laureate in economics, natural calamities hit people when they are denied of their social, economic and political entitlements such as food, jobs, and access to technology, participation and right to education and Medicare.

If we analyze the situation in interior Sindh in the light of Sen’s entitlement approach, we will find that state has totally failed to empower people and ensure their legal entitlement to the productive assets – education, health faculties and technology. There are no industries and people have no entitlement to land to be distributed judiciously amongst poor peasants.

Apart from lack of entitlement, there are other factors contributing to the poverty of people. According to study of Dr. Manzoor Isran, working in SZABIST, structural adjustment programmes are responsible for creating poverty in the rural Sindh. According to him, since Pakistan is signatory to IMF programmes, under which government has been forced to withdraw subsidy from oil, gas, electricity, which have contributed to poverty.

According to him, it is state’s primary responsibility to initiate projects to create employment and thereby alleviate poverty and reduce income inequalities. Pakistan being signatory to IMF programmes is being asked for downsizing, which means laying off people from jobs. Further, IMF programmes restrict state investment in the industry and agriculture. It is one of the factor causing misery and mayhem.

Finally, I would strongly suggest that if government is serious to protect people from the injurious effects of the rains and floods, it has to take following measures.
• Investment in the creation of social infrastructure, that is, health education, health.
• Investment in industry in rural areas and thereby create employment.
• Improvement in governance and elimination of corruption
• Land reforms and distribution of land in landless peasants.
• Provide youth from rural areas with microfinance so that they open small and medium business.
I am sure if above cited measure are taken, it certainly it will minimize, if not eliminate poverty, from rural areas.

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Story first published: 20th September 2011






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