Udo Stolte reports on his first day in the flood areas

August 10, 2010

After being met at Islamabad airport early this morning, I was taken directly to Peshawar where our minitruck was loaded with around 2,000 hot meals in plastic bags. We then drove on to Nowshera to distribute them.

 

After being picked up at Islamabad airport early this morning, I was taken directly to Peshawar where our minitruck was loaded with around 2,000 hot meals in plastic bags. We then drove on to Nowshera to distribute them. It was turmoil: everyone was fighting to get hold of some food. There were no police on hand and the army is currently busy airdropping supplies to people cut off by the flood waters.

Many carried their bags home to their families, while others simply squatted by the roadside and began eating. They are desperately hungry and thirsty. The army seems to come by now and again with supplies of drinking water.

 

Following the distribution I was escorted to a few homes where I was shown the effects of the flooding. It was horrific. There were flood markings one meter up the walls on the first floor. So everything on the ground floor and on the first floor had been destroyed. Many small shops (bazaars) were on the ground floor. Some streets are still under water. Fortunately it has been mostly dry today. If it rains again in the mountains though, the large dam (Warsak-Dam) will have to be opened and the villages will then be flooded again. Many villagers are afraid of that, and told me that they want to leave their village. If the dam is not opened, it could break which would have devastating consequences. Among other things the whole of Peshawar would be swamped. I heard on the news recently that the dam is apparently over 70 meters high.

 

Those affected all say the same: We have lost everything; house, furnishings, our livelihoods – often family members too.
There is mud everywhere on the streets and in the houses. Everywhere there is a stench of decay. Reportedly 14 million Pakistanis are now affected by the floods. No-one knows how many have died. For the most part people have to fend for themselves. Now and then a pick-up drives around and distributes water or naan bread –these are private initiatives.

Since Thursday we have been handing out between 1,800 and 2,400 hot meals per day and have to decide on a daily basis how long we can financially manage this. Our costs are around 6,000 euros a week. Next we want to order and distribute water purification tablets. There is a real threat of epidemics. Cholera has reportedly broken out in some places. The misery is overwhelming and moves one to tears.

 

Tomorrow we are going to distribute meals in two more villages.

 

Reconstruction is still impossible to imagine.

 

The situation in the affected areas of the devastating flooding is very dramatic. Our director Udo Stolte spontaneously went to the disaster area to get an idea of the situation and to start projects. He took a lot of photos.

 

You find some of these on Flickr and facebook:

 

http://www.facebook.com/ShelterNow/

 

http://www.flickr.de/photos/shelter-now/

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