Four months after monsoon rains inflicted a flood of biblical proportions on Pakistan; the country is still suffering from the disaster’s aftermath. Beginning in July, unprecedented heavy monsoon rains began to fall with no end in sight. The flood caused an overflow of the Indus river basin which runs southward along the entire length of Pakistan, broke several main dams, and left millions of acres underwater. Although the rains have stopped, the effects are nowhere near over. Repeatedly named the largest crisis in international history, the Pakistan floods swallowed over twenty percent of the country’s landmass, ending the lives of nearly two thousand humans.
Umar, a Pakistani citizen who is a graduate student researching optics at UCF says, “you can’t take only the number of people who died, you have to factor in the economic, social and health factors as well.”
Affecting around twenty million people, the flood in Pakistan touched the lives of more than the Haiti earthquake, the 2004 tsunami, and the previous Pakistani earthquake combined. These twenty million Pakistani inhabitants have lost homes, livestock and all means of livelihood. Even more upsetting is the fact that because every Pakistani family has an average of anywhere from five to ten kids, over half of the people affected by the disaster are children.
The effects of contaminated water left the country ridden with diseases such as cholera and dysentery, leaving millions of people sick and without means to recover. In addition, an explosion in the number of mosquitoes as an effect of the standing water has lead to an outbreak of malaria that is worse than any seen in Pakistan before. Finally, while most of the inhabitants of Pakistan earn a living from farmland which has been destroyed by the heavy rains, malnutrition is at its highest ever. Efforts are being made to provide treatment and refuge for people who have been left homeless and severely sick, but the help hasn’t been anywhere near enough.
The government of Pakistan is wholly unequipped to remedy a disaster of this proportion. Nicknamed the ten percent man, Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, has been repeatedly accused of reaping kickbacks that are supposed to go towards the benefit of the country. The United Nations has implemented a program to assist Pakistani inhabitants directly affected by the disaster, but the small percentage of money that actually goes towards the effort is still not enough. “It’s an uphill battle,” Umar says, and if the Pakistani people are ever going to recover from this long acting disaster, they are going to need international help and recognition.
It’s alarmingly easy to be numb to disasters that happen across the world. The amount of information that filters through TV sets, magazines and newspapers is just barely enough to make us aware of what is happening, but the news often comes across as cold statistics and facts recounting a tragedy that seems to exist in a different universe. The reality of the situation is that millions of real humans are left homeless, without food and means of survival from the effects of this catastrophe. Efforts are currently being made at UCF and through private organizations to help these people.
The following are reputable organizations that are accepting donations that will go directly towards the efforts being made in Pakistan: