September 9, 2022
By Hidayatullah Achakzai
The floods caused by the recent monsoon rains in the border town of Chaman in Balochistan have left a trail of misery and grief in its wake.
According to the official data, 20 people have died and 30 people have been injured, while more than 1,500 houses have been damaged only in Chaman and Qila Saifullah, two districts of southern Balochistan. As the floodwater swept away all belongings, the inhabitants of these districts were forced to live under the grey sky.
Among such flood victims is Fida Muhammad, whose three-room house was destroyed by the floodwater, leaving his children homeless.
“The floodwater completely destroyed my house and shop, washing away everything that I had,” he tells Voicepk. Fida Muhammad now lives in a rented house with his children. The only assistance he has received up till now consists of a few packets of rice and cereals that a government relief team came to deliver several days ago. “The government officials gave us two packets of Dal (lentils) and rice but haven’t come back since,” he complains.
Fida says the government should immediately assist him in rebuilding his house as he no longer affords the Rs 3,500 monthly rent of his accommodation. Besides, he has to pay another Rs 3000 for a water tanker for drinking and other needs of his family.
Fida is out of work and pays for his expenses by borrowing money from friends and family. This is the second time that the floods have destroyed his house. On the previous occasion, he had rebuilt the house from the money he had kept for his daughter’s dowry.
“The floodwater then had swept away all our belongings including pillows and beds,” he says. Fida Muhammad says his eldest son, who is 15 years old, works as a labourer after finishing school in the afternoon. “I just want the government to build my house so that I don’t beg for rent,” he says, adding that the floods have left him penniless and without any resources to rebuild his house on his own.
Another flood victim, Hazrat Ali, says he is forced to rebuild his house on his own due to the delay in government assistance. “The floodwater swept away the boundary walls and houses of inhabitants in Chaman,” he says. “The government gave flood victims nothing except a few packets of food rations,” he adds. Hazrat Ali says for flood victims like him whose houses were damaged the priority was quickly rebuilding their houses. “The flood victims are now living in houses of relatives or elsewhere on rent,” he explains. “We appeal to the government to help fund the rebuilding of boundary walls and rooms of houses damaged in the floods.” However, some of the inhabitants have started rebuilding their houses with money borrowed from friends and relatives.
Surprisingly, Balochistan was the first province to be affected by the devastating floods in the country but the tragedy failed to garner attention from the federal government and mainstream media due to the political chaos in the country. The monsoon rains in Balochistan affected thousands of people by causing havoc in various districts of the northwestern region. This has increased the anger and despair felt by people here.
Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif visited the affected areas in Balochistan and announced a relief package for the flood victims. However, flood victims have complained of not receiving government assistance despite the passage of many days.
This has delayed the process of resettlement of the displaced flood victims ahead of the harsh and cold winter season in the province which could be yet another risk and peril for them.