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Posts Tagged ‘Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’

Devastating floods have become common in recent years

Posted by African Press International on August 12, 2013

Devastating floods have become common in recent years

SIALKOT,  – Monsoon rain, which started at the end of June in Pakistan, has already killed 80 people and left over 81,000 displaced, according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), despite improved preparedness plans being in place.

Sialkot District, about 120km northeast of Lahore, saw torrential rain on 6 August: Drains almost immediately overflowed, villages were inundated, agricultural land damaged and residents left stranded as water surrounded homes.

“People are being rescued in all the affected areas,” District Officer (coordination) Malik Abid Hussain Awan told IRIN, saying that 47 villages in the district had been affected.

The government and relief agencies are on high alert this year after serious flooding in the last three years. Flooding in 2010 killed around 2,000 people.

There has been some more rain over the past few days and the fear is that, with more rain forecast for later this month, tributaries of the rivers Ravi and Chenab in Punjab could burst their banks.

However, the authorities say they are well prepared. “We have held meetings including those with the chief ministers, chief secretaries, and major humanitarian agencies well ahead of the monsoon,” NDMA spokesman Brig Kamran Zia told IRIN.

Fifty-one districts (out of more than 100) have been identified as at risk from floods. Primary responsibility for managing flooding was allocated to district-level disaster management authorities following devolution in 2010.

NDMA’s plan, Zia said, included the securing of protective walls along water channels, the provision of boats to rescue marooned people and the readiness of armed forces to intervene where required. Training has also been given to district teams.

“Though a shortage of resources is a problem, we have a plan in place to meet the food and non-food needs of eight million people,” Zia said.

This year there is better tracking of meteorological information than before, the government says. Risks are being assessed based on data from the country’s Metrological Department, regional weather monitoring bodies, and Pakistan’s Satellite Research and Development Centre.

“We have lost our homes and lands in many cases, and are living with very little shelter of any kind”

In terms of stocks, NDMA has decided that food rations for affected and displaced people will be bought as required. “We naturally didn’t want to waste money on buying things that would not be needed, and of course food items such as wheat flour, and so on, are perishable and cannot be stored indefinitely in warehouses,” said Zia, adding that any items required could be bought with a “two-day lead time”.

“The provincial and federal governments already finalized contingency plans well in time, and have started responding to the affected people. But we still need to strengthen the DDMA [District Disaster Management Authorities] and local administrations as they are the first responders,” Arif Jabbar Khan, international country director for Oxfam, told IRIN.

So far, according to Oxfam, the government has provided 15,330 tents, 3,996 food packs, 500 blankets, 13,000 mosquito nets and 12 de-watering pumps, and miscellaneous food and non-food items are also reaching affected communities.

Flash floods

The heaviest rain in the past few days has been in Jacobabad and Karachi in Sindh Province, Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province, in the Kalat region of Balochistan as well as in parts of Punjab, according to Kamran Shariff, a humanitarian affairs officer with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Pakistan.

“It was unusually strong spells of rain in a relatively short spell of time in vulnerable areas which instigated flash floods across the country,” Shariff told IRIN.

He said there was urban flooding mainly in Karachi, and to a lesser extent in Hyderabad and Sukkur. “As always, we are poorly prepared for such hazards mainly due to inadequate drainage capacity and choked water outflow channels.”

Snow and glacier melt are contributing to water flows in the north of the country.

NGO Support to Deprived People, headquartered in Shikarpur in Sindh Province, has made an appeal for more funding and spoken of the plight of affected people.

“We have not really received any assistance at all apart from a few food parcels handed out by some NGO. We have lost our homes and lands in many cases, and are living with very little shelter of any kind,” said Farid Ahmed who, with his family, moved away from his home in the Jhal Magsi District of Balochistan to higher ground near his village.

kh/jj/cb  source


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Humanitarian work in NW Pakistan hampered

Posted by African Press International on April 27, 2013

ISLAMABAD,  – Delivering humanitarian aid in northwestern Pakistan has recently been hampered by attacks on schools, aid workers and polio vaccination teams, and bureaucratic procedures for aid projects are making matters worse. 

International and national humanitarian agencies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) often face long delays waiting for local officials to grant the relevant permits.

Since 2005, procedures to obtain No Objection Certificates (NOCs) for projects and travel have made it more difficult to deliver vital aid, and in at least one case, led directly to the cancellation of projects.

Relief and recovery projects in FATA and KP require project NOCs, while international staff, including UN workers, also require travel NOCs to move around.

“We had applied for a project implementation NOC to begin a project in livestock in the Kurram Agency to the FATA Disaster Management Authority in February, and had planned the project in December last year, but have still had no response,” said Anwar Shah, CEO of the Peshawar-based national NGO Shid, which works in livestock, livelihood and education.

“Now the local livestock authorities in Kurram say it is too late to start – so everyone suffers.”

Hearing reports of delays, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) set about getting a more comprehensive picture by gathering data from agencies operating in the area.

“The problem is not a new one. It has been there for some time, but now rather than just anecdotal accounts, we are trying to properly monitor the situation and create a database to engage the authorities on this issue based on evidence,” Christina Alfirev, OCHA humanitarian affairs officer in Islamabad, told IRIN.

Of the 18 humanitarian agencies who submitted data on NOC project requests in January and February, related to 27 projects, 21 were still being processed; only five had been approved and one had been rejected without explanation, as of early March.

“There is a desperate need for more projects, more development here. So many people are jobless, and need help”, Abdul Wali, Swat District

Average processing time for project NOCs in KP as of the end of February was found to be 53 days and 66 days for FATA instead of the six weeks indicated by government authorities. One NGO had to wait 118 days for an NOC.

The OCHA bulletin published 4 April 2013 says the delays are “hampering the provision of critical services” and calls on local authorities to speed up the paperwork “to enable timely assistance to people in need in KP and FATA.”

The bulletin says one emergency project had to be cancelled because of delays, while another had to be reduced in scope.

The paper trail

Humanitarian projects in KP need an NOC from the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), and must be requested at least six weeks in advance.

Expatriate staff also need an NOC for travel; and in February the Home Department in KP said applications should be made “at least 6-8 weeks prior to the visit”, something one international humanitarian worker, who asked not to be named, told IRIN that if implemented, “means regular visits to projects are nearly impossible.”

Donors have been expressing concern to the government about the delays these moves could create if implemented, and there are some indications the authorities may be prepared to revoke the policy.

Applications go to the home department of the provincial government in Peshawar, and then can often follow a trail of authorizations and approvals from various military units, as well as the Inter-Services Intelligence.

“A key reason for the new procedures is security concerns. The government is worried a foreign worker or local NGO worker may be harmed, and this brings it a bad name. I think recent events like attacks on polio workers are a factor in the decisions taken,” said a PDMA official in KP who preferred anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the press.

The delays witnessed by agencies in the last few months are also affecting relations with donors, some of whom do not transfer funds until project NOCs have been issued.

“The Project NOC is valid for six months. Then the same game starts again. At this time I have been waiting now more than six weeks for the extension of an NOC,” said the aid worker, adding that donors usually extend a project’s lifespan, though without increasing budgets, which means they are almost inevitably reduced in size, something donors do not always understand.

“Right now one of our donors is very unhappy,” he said.

Permit mission creep

Alfirev said project implementation permits date back to the 2005 earthquake which killed 73,000 people in the north: “The procedure was put in place by the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority set up by the government after that disaster, and was really intended to coordinate the many agencies working in the quake zone and prevent duplication. The process worked smoothly then.”

All organizations working on relief and early recovery activities in KP/FATA are required to either apply for Project NOCs for projects lasting up to six months, or apply for a Memorandum of Understanding for projects lasting more than six months.

Since 2005, there have been a series of additions to the list of documents and information needed when making NOC requests.

The latest came in February this year with the government’s announcement of a 6-8 week requirement for travel NOCs, against the normal 5-7 working days.

The Home and Tribal Affairs Department issued new directives for travel NOCs for 10 (out of 25) KP districts – Malakand, Swat, Upper and Lower Dir, Buner, Shangla, Chitral, DI Khan, Tank and Hangu. The Law and Order Department issued a similar directive covering FATA.

Humanitarian agencies are hoping the new time-scale will be officially reduced to the previous 5-7 working days, and as yet it does not seem the 6-8 week policy is being applied on the ground.

“Since 2008, the humanitarian community has raised US$1.38 billion in funding for people affected by violence in northwestern Pakistan. In order to ensure that the assistance is delivered to the people in need, we depend on the government to facilitate humanitarian operations and ease bureaucratic hurdles,” said Lynn Hastings, OCHA country director .

Aid workers say the delays are making it more difficult to deliver aid to KP and FATA. “People suffer when there are delays,” said Shah of Shid NGO.

In Mingora, the principal town in KP’s Swat District, Abdul Wali, 45, who lost his farm in the 2010 floods, told IRIN: “There is a desperate need for more projects, more development here. So many people are jobless, and need help.”

kh/jj/cb source

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