Six months have passed since the catastrophic floods wreaked havoc across Pakistan; it killed 1739 people, 647 children, displaced more than 3 million people and destroyed acres of land all over the country. A recent report by the UN urged the government, as well as the international community, to revert attention back to flood victims whose struggles still continue. Perhaps the most urgent concern put forward relates to inaccessible drinking water as most water sources have been contaminated and it would appear as though the government has no plans to initiate cleanup operations. Why is that so? And how long must the suffering of the population continue?
The report brought to light Pakistan’s fight against the water crisis and pointed out that even before the floods, a significant majority of the country lacked access to clean drinking water. Polluted water sources have been a source of diseases for decades and inefficient government regulation has proliferated the issue beyond control. When the floods hit, not only was the water table imbalanced but available resources were contaminated by toxic waste as well. Now, at least 5.4 million people have no option but to use the disease-ridden water for drinking purposes, as well as for daily use.
The impact of this cannot be ignored; our population is especially vulnerable to health crises as evidenced by the dengue outbreak following the floods. Now, we are battling illnesses like polio and typhoid as well. On top of this, national immunity has been reduced significantly due to malnutrition. People not only lack access to food but high poor economic performance has resulted in high inflation, leading prices to soar to rates unaffordable by the masses. On top of this, the lack of government attention towards rehabilitation is evident through the lack of basic facilities like bathrooms in far-flung areas. As a result, open defecation has become the new norm; a practice which increased by more than 14 percent nationally.
These are incredibly concerning times that Pakistan has found itself in and it would seem as though all relevant authorities have moved past the floods and directed their attention to their political tussle. Even the international community looks to have moved on to other disasters, neglecting the fact that not even half of its pledged aid of $173 million has been met. Surely after having suffered through literal hell, people deserve to experience some rehabilitative measures like donation campaigns, access to water, shelter, clothing and medical attention. This is the least that can be expected.