Govt unveils ‘Adopt a District’ plan in flood-affected areas

F.P Report

ISLAMABAD: Underscoring the point that never ever such an abrupt change in the weather pattern had been witnessed due to the phenomenon of climate change, Federal Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal announced on Tuesday the launching of ‘Adopt a District’ programme with the cooperation of the provincial governments to help the districts worst affected by the devastating floods.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad along with National Disaster Management (NDMA) Chairman Lieutenant General Akhtar Nawaz and others, Ahsan, however, said the government was doing all it could to make those affected by floods stand on their feet again.

The minister disclosed that close to 100,000 of the livestock had perished in the flood-hit provinces of Sindh, Balochistan and southern Punjab so far. “Due to the deaths of cattle in such large numbers and the destruction of crops, the country is facing food insecurity,” he said, and added, “About one-third of the country is under water and 30 million people have been affected by the natural disaster.”

Ahsan Iqbal told newsmen that ‘Adopt a District’ plan the administrative, human and health sector resources of major districts especially in Punjab which have not been damaged by the floods will be left at the disposal of those affected by the calamity.

He said it is time to express complete compassion and solidarity with the people of flood-hit districts and this will be a great service to this country.

The minister said that two million mother and child nutrition packs will also be raised with the support of university students. He said vice-chancellors of each university will task every student to prepare this nutrition pack individually or with the support of community to help those women and children whose lives are at stake in the affected areas.

Ahsan Iqbal said the government is working to establish mobile clinics and maternity hospitals in the affected areas keeping in view the health needs of the women there. He also appealed the religious scholars to encourage the people in their Friday sermons to extend a helping hand to the flood victims.

NDMA Chairman Akhtar Nawaz, on the occasion, said that no department or organisation could single-handedly deal with the calamity of such a huge magnitude. “As many as 114 flights carrying relief goods for the flood victims have reached Pakistan so far while 13 more are due in the next 10 days,” he informed.

Similarly, he went on to add, two trains, loaded with relief items, had reached Pakistan from Turkey while six were on their way.

The NDMA chairman said that despite the fact that many items had been delivered to the flood-affected people, still there was an acute shortage of tents in these areas. “We badly need warm clothes, blankets and quilts for the people sitting out in the open in view of approaching winter season,” he told.

He said Sindh was the most affected province, hence, 55 to 60 percent relief goods have been sent to the province followed by 15 to 20 percent to Balochistan. Relief goods have also been provided to Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan.

He said that a complete record of relief goods is being maintained to ensure transparency.

Coordinator National Flood Response and Coordination Centre Major General Muhammad Zafar Iqbal said connectivity with Balochistan has been restored while trains are also plying on ML-1. He said provision of food to the flood-affected areas is being ensured. He said the country has sufficient stocks of wheat and the government will take action against those involved in hoarding.

Zafar Iqbal said that draining the water out of agriculture land in Sindh is continuing, expressing the confidence that most of the land there will be available for cultivation of wheat crop. He said sunflower will be grown in the land where water will be standing.