ATP Poll: Response to The Great Flood of 2010

Posted on September 5, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, ATP Poll, Disasters, Environment, Foreign Relations, Society
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Adil Najam

The raging waters may finally be finding their way into the ocean and news of the calamity is beginning to recede from the front pages of the Pakistani newspapers. But the challenges are no less today than they were a month ago; if anything they may even be greater as we begin to grapple the full magnitude of the economic, livelihood and disease costs of what can only be called The Great Flood of 2010.

Realizing that there is still much to be done, in this ATP Poll we wish to get a sense of how some of the key players have been doing in playing their role in the relief and response to this Great Flood (you can choose multiple entries).

We have tried to keep the poll simple by only asking who is doing a good job in their response. In not choosing a particular entry you will signify that they are doing less than what you consider to be a ‘good’ job for that particular actor. We repeat, in this poll you CAN choose as many entries as you wish.

Please note that ‘Pakistani official agencies’ includes all field agencies, including those of the Pakistan military, federal, provincial and local authorities, but this does not include the political leadership at any of those levels – you are welcome to comment on their performance in the comments section. We hope you will also comment in more detail on why you think a particular group has or has not done a good job in your estimation and what you had expected of them.

Most importantly, let us remember that much of what has to be done, remains to be done. Our goal here is not just to evaluate, but also to think about what these actors can do better, any suggestions on that in the comments will also be, therefore, appreciated.

20 responses to “ATP Poll: Response to The Great Flood of 2010”

  1. Sadia Hussain says:

    A collation initiative is needed to cope up with this challenge; both the Ngo’s and government agencies should work in collaboration to alleviate the concerns of the displaced. A public-private partnership is vital for rehabilitation programs.

  2. Majeed says:

    As a result of flooding economy has suffered and now the government says it won’t have money to pay salaries after two months; 10/updates/9-7-2010_44844_1.gif

    This is quiet alarming; I’m not sure why more fuss is not being made over it.

  3. Asim says:

    Pakistan sets another example of competency and diligence (NOT): mats-ruin-nyse-screen-offer/

  4. Watan Aziz says:

    Bravo ATP!

    You have the guts to ask the right questions.

    Or not?

    And the three ‘t’ questions missed in the poll?

    “Was the relief timely?”

    “Is the relief transparent?”

    “Is the relief tolerable?”

    Well, every pollster knows, it is the art of wording the questions, the order of the questions and most importantly, the omission of the words that “produces” the (desired) results. I will not ask if the omission was commissioned but is the remission really part of the perception? I ask.

    Which leads me to ask, if the order in the military, federal, provincial, local ( perceived as to be from more powerful to less) a Freudian slip?

    My answer: no, it cannot be. It is built into the Pakistani psyche. The Sparta state and the mindset exists even in the minds of those who are unstinting in the want of democracy. I raise it only, that beware, in the Pakistani tradition, there can be a new usurper yet to be discovered.

    I pray not.

    Which brings me back to the main heading of the post: ‘The Great Flood of 2010’.

    Or should it be ‘The Great Flooding of 2010’

    Shall we peak?

    A Flood (commonly called river flood) is a high flow or overflow of water from a river or similar body of water, occurring over a period of time too long to be considered a flash flood.

    Flooding may result from the volume of water within a body of water, such as a river or lake, which overflows or breaks levees, with the result that some of the water escapes its usual boundaries

    Flooding is caused in a variety of ways. Winter or spring rains, coupled with melting snows, can fill river basins too quickly. Torrential rains from decaying hurricanes or other tropical systems can also produce river flooding. The Mississippi River Flood of 1993 was caused by repeated heavy rain from thunderstorms over a period of weeks.

    Flash Floods are quick-rising floods usually occurring as the result of heavy rains over a short period of time, often only several hours or even less.

    They can also be caused by ice jams on rivers in conjunction with a winter or spring thaw, or occasionally even a dam break. The constant influx of water finally causes a treacherous overflow to begin, powerful enough to sweep vehicles away, roll boulders into roadways, uproot trees, level buildings, and drag bridges off their piers. Most frightening is the rapidity with which the water rises. (Sources: Weather dot com and Wiki)

    So, the question is, was this floods, flooding or flash flooding?

    There is a total lack of information on this. Perhaps someone can write more about it and explain to all of us what happened here. But if I have to guess, certainly there was not enough planning before the monsoon season, the forecast was not up to par, the alarm bells were not rung, the information not dealt with urgency it required, the response was inadequate, inaccurate and immature.

    What probably started as flash flooding in some northern parts got out of hand due to lack of dredging and levy maintenance. And then with willful and wanton break of levies, resulting in flooding in the mid sections of the country. And certainly by the time the water reached the southern parts of the county, it was a massive flood but manageable only due to a massive cry of disbelief and the resulting response.

    Regardless, the loss of life; and in thousands in matter of hours, begs that an independent commission of experts ask, ‘what happened here?’.

    I know there are a lot of good people in a very bad system. It will be irresponsible to if there is a witch hunt and attempts to find scape goats (where do these goats keeping back from?). And usually it happens in cases like this. Today is September 6 and we still wrongly blame ZAB for the failures of the self-proclaimed field marshal (yes, with lower cases). So, let us not go there.

    But questions need to be asked to avoid the next one. And yes, there will be a next one if no one does nothing about anything. And let us follow this road. To avoid the next one.

    So, here is the start of the list:

    Date: June 21, 2010

    Outlook for Monsoon Season (July-Sep) 2010

    Meteorological data suggests that on all Pakistan basis the monsoon rains during Jul-Sep (2010) in most parts of the country are likely to be normal (+10%), which means that the over all availability of water in the country from monsoon rains would be sufficient.

    Due to high sea-land temperature contrast, the development of some mid-tropospheric circulations are likely in north Arabian Sea that may cause heavy rainfall events over southern areas of Pakistan (Sindh) during Jul-Sep.

    Due to the interactions of westerly-easterly waves, few very heavy rainfall events would also occur over north Pakistan that may cause urban/flash flooding during Jul-Sep.

    This is seasonal forecast with confidence level of 80% and meant for the planning purpose only. The normal area-weighted rainfall for July to September of Pakistan is 137.5 mm.



    And the following good folks should also provide answers as to what happened?


    Dated: 24th August, 2010

    Advisory: Flood Alert for Sutlej River

    The present meteorological situation suggest that the water reservoirs in India on river Sutlej are nearing their maximum conservation level and it is very likely that India may release water in coming days. As a result, river Sutlej at G.S. Wala may record rise in water flow. This may create inundation of low lying areas of river Sutlej. The inhabitants in the river bed may specially be in danger and it is requested that local authorities may take precautionary measures to warn the people residing in the river bed. Further, warning would be issued as soon as any water release information from India is received.

    River Ravi:
    It is also clarified that the increased flow in river Ravi has been mainly due to the continuous rains in the area below Madhopur and over the catchments of nullahs of river Ravi. India has not yet released any substantial amount of water from Madhopur in India. Indian Thein Dam on river Ravi data suggest that India may not release water in river Ravi during next 7 days. However, some water level in Ravi river (low / medium flood) may increase in next 3-4 days due to expected rains in catchment of nullahs of river Ravi

    Issued Time: 0115 HRS ——-Sd——–
    (Dr. Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry) Director General, PMD

    1: Chairman, NDMA Islamabad
    2: Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Rawalpindi
    3: Secretary Water & Power Islamabad.
    4: Chairman, FFC Islamabad
    5: D.G. Engineers, Engineering Directorate, GHQ Rawalpindi
    6: D.G. Mets. Islamabad.
    7: “Emergency Flood Cell” Chief Minister Secretariat Sindh.

    Finally, the following offices should also be able to provide more information:

    1. Federal Minister, Water & Power, Islamabad.
    2. Governor (All Provinces).
    3. Chairman NDMA., Islamabad.
    4. Chief Minister (All Provinces).
    5. Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Rawalpindi.
    6. Secretary, Ministry of Water & Power, Islamabad.
    7. Secretary, Ministry of Information, Islamabad.
    8. Chairman NHA, Islamabad.
    9. Chief Secretary (All Provinces & AJK).
    10. PDMA’S( D.G’S, All Provinces & AJK).
    11. Administrator & Chief Secretary, Gilgit-Baltistan
    12. Chairman, Indus River System Authority, Islamabad.
    13. Chairman, Federal Flood Commission, Islamabad.
    14. Commissioner for Indus Waters, Lahore.
    15. Relief Commissioner, (All Provinces & A.J.K).
    16. The Secretary General, Pakistan Red Crescent Society, Islamabad.
    17. Secretary, Irrigation Department, (All Provinces).
    18. D.G. Relief, (All Provinces).
    19. D.G. Emergency Relief Cell, Cabinet Division, Islamabad.
    20. Chief Engineer, Mangla/Tarbela/Chashma.
    21. Chief Engineer, Irrigation (All Provinces).
    22. Chief Engineer, (All Barrages).
    23. Chief Engineer, C.D.O. (Muzaffarabad).
    24. All concerned D. C. Os.

    As I have said, there are a lot of good and caring people in a very bad system of governance. The issue is not to find fault in individual people as none of this can be an individual happening. At least this big. But this is a collective failure of the system and it will require a collective response (and responsible response) to fix the problem.

    There was too much loss of life and property for this not to be asked. We owe it to the departed to ask so that this does not happen again.

    Pakistanis are good, honest, hard working people, caught up in a bad story. It is our collective job to change the story, change the page. I know, Pakistanis will yet come through this just as well.

    And yes; yes we can!

    I have the audacity of hope.

  5. Prophet says:

    Why are Global donations are down for the humanitarian crisis in Pakistan ?

    That would be a great poll.

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