The great flood of 2010 seems to have been washed out of our collective memory. It is scarcely mentioned today in our conversations and not at all in a media where every news seems to be ‘breaking news’ except the news that really matters to the lives to real people. This is sad. In fact, it is shameful.
I realized that I too stand guilty to this charge. I did so as I read the news item that the World Food Programme (WFP) is facing a shortfall of $548million in a expected donations and is therefore being forced to end its free food program for flood affectees. Realizing that the waters may have receded, but the misery they brought has not, we at ATP will immediately be making additional contributions to Pakistan flood relief. We hope our readers will too. Here, again, is a list of causes that are (at least were) collecting and distributing resources for this cause:
Here is the full text of the news item regarding the WFP, from The Express Tribune (February 19, 2011):
ISLAMABAD: Facing a shortfall of $548 million in expected donations, the World Food Program (WFP) has suspended its emergency food distribution in areas of Pakistan worst affected by the floods of 2010. The WFP’s already meagre resources were not able to cope with the additional burden of catering to the needs of flood victims in the country. While the organisation launched a Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) to deal with many of the internally displaced people’s nutritional needs, it was able to raise only 12 per cent of the $622.7 million it needs to finance the operation.
The agency claims that unless it receives more donations soon, it will be unable to provide life-saving assistance to the many thousands of people that depend on the WFP for their sustenance. The WFP faces an additional burden of being unable to buy food commodities from international markets as countries limit their exports this year after a sharp increase in global food prices.
In order to cope with the difficulty in procurement, the program has launched an alternative to its food distribution scheme. As floodwaters recede and local agricultural commodity markets return to normalcy, the WFP will be handing out cash to flood victims to buy their own food. The organisation already conducted a successful pilot project in Buner in 2010.
The WFP will be handing out the equivalent of the value of its food packages – which comes to Rs5,000 – to flood victims in Nowshera and Charsadda in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The money will be handed out in the form of cards which can be used at branches of United Bank.
Much of the country has begun to recover from the flooding, leaving the WFP to end its relief efforts in most areas after February. However, parts of Sindh remain submerged and over 600,000 people in Balochistan have still not been able to return to their homes. The people in these areas, coupled with refugees from the conflict in the Mohmand tribal agency, will continue to receive assistance for the next two months.