This past week, several significant reports were issued that deal with the enormous importance of an effective and efficient recovery process in Pakistan. Three of the best ones I found are:
Floods expose civilian-military divide in Pakistan
Massive flooding in Pakistan appears to be draining support for the already-weak civilian government while boosting the powerful military, a blow to U.S. and domestic hopes for a strong Pakistani democracy capable of undercutting the allure of al-Qaida and the Taliban.
Flooding Challenges Pakistan’s Government and the International Community, US Institute of Peace, August 17
Natural disasters are social as well as environmental events. The poor and marginalized members of society suffer the most. Marginalization is one of the root causes of violence and militancy in Pakistan. • As the government of Pakistan responds to the suffering of its people and the damage to the environment and infrastructure, it should seek to provide relief and recovery assistance in ways that contribute to ameliorating marginalization.
Natural Disasters and Insecurity in Pakistan; Introduction and links, via the Homeland Security Digital Library, August 19. Direct link to Congressional Service Report, Security and The Environment in Pakistan. August 3, 2010. Note that this report was published shortly before the massive flooding, yet it warns about numerous natural hazards and other threats that Pakistan faced. The implications for long-term recovery are highly significant.
Although the flooding has gone on for weeks, somehow the full scale and impact of the catastrophic flooding has not been effectively communicated to the world at large.See Death toll rises from Pakistan flooding, CNN, August 16. In actuality, the numbers of people affected are staggering and the response and recovery are hampered by the continuing flooding. Some key facts:
- The death toll from flooding that has ravaged Pakistan for more than two weeks is up to 1,463;
- More than 895,200 houses have been damaged, and more than 2,000 people have been injured;
- One-fifth of the country is under water. Roughly 900,000 are homeless as a result of the catastrophe
- Thousands of towns and villages (estimated at 4,000) have been washed away.
- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said …that while he has visited sites of natural disasters around the world, he has never seen anything like the devastation created by flooding in Pakistan.
- He said the disaster is worse than the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2005 Pakistani earthquake combined.
A thoughtful and comprehensive look at the longer-term impacts, including the stability of the country are examined in this NYTimes article: Floods Could Have Lasting Impact for Pakistan. N.Y. Times. If in fact this flood disaster is greater than the two most recent Asian catastrophic disasters noted above, are the capabilities of the international community sufficient to effectively assist? Add to that concern the political importance of Pakistan to the U.S. This is a catastrophic disaster that bears careful watching.