Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pakistan flood = Boxing day tsunami + Kashmir earthquake + Haiti earthquake

Millions of people have been displaced by the Pakistan flood. [Image by the Vancouver Sun]

Flood waters from Pakistan's overflowing Indus river will affect more people than the world's last three great disasters combined, according to UN reports. While the flood's death toll of 1500 is low compared to those of the tsunami and earthquakes, up to 20 million Pakistanis will be affected by displacement and other flood-related problems, such as waterborne diseases, dehydration and malnutrition due to the lack of safe drinking water, food and shelter. Longer-term problems also loom, like the food shortage that will result from the loss of 1.7 million acres of farmland.

The international aid response is failing to match the size of the disaster. Ten days after the Haiti earthquake, $1 billion had been pledged by donors. In comparison, Pakistan's flood survivors have received just $150 million after the same time period. U.S. envoy for the disaster, Richard Holbrooke, says that because a flood is a rolling crisis, growing over time, its impact will usually be underestimated initially. The US has made the biggest donation to the stricken country: $70 million. Washington's generosity is tactical - the US relies on Pakistan's support in its battle against the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan.

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