Pakistan farmers reel from flash floods

Caritas teams assess emergency needs amid loss of lives and widespread damage to wheat and other crops
Pakistan farmers reel from flash floods

Khalil Ahmad (right) meeting flood survivors with a Caritas Pakistan team in front of a flooded school in Patyat Village.

Caritas Pakistan has surveyed flood-affected villages in the wake of Holy Week storms, that killed 29 people and caused extensive crop and other damage, in order to respond to urgent needs.

An estimated 150,000 tonnes of wheat were destroyed.

Wheat is the most important staple food in Pakistan and it is grown by 80 percent of the country's farmers.

Media reports say the tempest struck southern and central Punjab province on Palm Sunday, April 14, with torrential rain and strong winds lasting for three days.

Farmer Khalil Ahmad was using an excavator to build an embankment when inundated by run-off from nearby hills on the night of April 17 night.

"We have shifted our families to neighboring cities," Ahmad told ucanews.

As a former Caritas Disaster Management Committee member, he had the necessary skills to help protect village homes from the flood waters, not least by using shovels with other local farmers to construct earth barriers.

Some water was seeping through and sludge would remain behind for many months, Ahmad said, adding that food shortages and hunger were inevitable.

Caritas teams have been conducting an initial rapid assessment in four dioceses and one apostolic prefecture.

According to Amjad Gulzar, executive director of Caritas Pakistan, the disaster has exacerbated challenges for ordinary people because of an already unfolding economic crises that has included a rapid rise in living costs.

Damage to crops from the latest stormy weather occurred as the harvest season was getting under way.

Now flood waters are heightening the risk of people contracting dengue fever from mosquitoes, especially in Karachi Archdiocese which suffered dengue outbreaks in both 2017 and 2018, Gulzar said.

Caritas disaster management teams are helping to identify loses and list the most affected families in order to efficiently provide emergency relief.

The Caritas teams are coordinating responses with district government officials, other non-government organizations and local business communities.

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