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World Bank recommends improved flood forecasting

A couple of tents pitched at odd angles in the Sindh sub-district of Johi. The local school lies submerged in the background.
(Adnan Sipra/IRIN)

Nearly three months after devastating floods hit southern Pakistan over 250,000 people are still living in makeshift shelters or camps, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

In Dadu District, Sindh Province, Fayyaz, 30, and his family live in a shelter by the side of a road.

"We have lived here for over two months," Fayyaz told IRIN as his wife and children peeked out from their "home" fashioned out of two charpoys (local beds) with chaddars (sheets) forming the walls. "We are alive, but not really functional. We won't be until we can get home."

The floods killed 400, displaced close to 400,000 and affected 2.5 million people across Sindh and Balochistan provinces.

However, Fayyaz's home - in a village over 10km from where he stood - lies beneath three metres of water and might not be standing any more. He acknowledged this: "At least, we're alive and I have my family with me," he said. "We'll deal with whatever comes next once the water goes down."

For tens of thousands of people like Fayyaz the wait for the water to recede is likely to be a long one in a part of Pakistan, which is historically flood-prone.

Flood risk management

The World Bank (WB) Inspection Panel Investigation Report (part of a World Bank Management response to a Pakistan National Drainage Program Inspection Panel report) published in October 2006 said southern Sindh's physical setting limited what could be done to control and prevent floods from monsoon rains, but nevertheless made some recommendations.

The WB report stressed the need for the effectiveness of local systems of flood warning, preparedness and response, calling them "an especially critical aspect of flood risk management".

"Local governments in Sindh have historically been responsible for flood management and, at least at district level, a system has been in practice for many years. However... many key elements of these systems have suffered from neglect in competition with other priorities and pressing needs," the report said.

Photo: Adnan Sipra/IRIN
Desperate locals in the Sindhi sub-district of K.N. Shah carry tents being distributed by a local NGO

The WB study recommended an assessment be done of the existing district-level system of flood warnings with the aim being to "identify gaps in this system and to formulate a programme to fill those gaps with plans, systems, facilities and equipment as appropriate".

Flood bunds, platforms

The study highlighted the need for "sufficient and adequate escape routes and refuges and the means for people to utilize these facilities to protect life and property".

The report said the most vulnerable villages and areas should be identified in consultation with local authorities and village leaders. Flood platforms and refuges could be constructed, as well as small flood bunds, and drains improved, along with roads so that isolation could be restricted and mobility enhanced, enabling both escape and accessibility options.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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