Czechs answer call to help flood stricken Pakistan

Pakistan villagers flee from area due to heavy flooding in Jacobabad, Pakistan, photo: CTK

Although the Czech Republic has been hit by it own floods, the country responded fast to the much greater inundation in Pakistan. We look at the Czech aid effort so far.

Pakistan villagers flee from area due to heavy flooding in Jacobabad,  Pakistan,  photo: CTK
Charity may sometimes begin at home. But amidst mounting international bickering about the level of aid given to flood stricken Pakistan, Czechs can at least argue this has not been the case.

The country’s biggest charity, People in Need, was fast to scramble a team to go to Pakistan with the Czech government providing 4.0 million crowns for its emergency relief project.

Another 1.5 million crowns was collected from Czechs following a public appeal and People in Need has drawn half a million crowns from its own reserves. But this is still a small drop compared to the aid offered by the biggest aid donors so far, the United Kingdom and the United States.

People in Need’s Tomáš Kocian is heading a team of six permanent staff and 21 other workers in northern Pakistan who are getting to grips with the enormity of the disaster there.

Pakistani flood survivors reach out for relief goods distributed in Khangarh,  near Multan,  Pakistan,  photo: CTK
On a crackly line from the northern city of Peshawar he agreed that the international response has been slow, but says that is changing.

“I think that the response is not adequate yet. But if you look at the appeal, the international community does realise that it is a huge operation and a huge disaster. It is expected that the funds for the relief will be coming. Actually, it has already started. There have been plenty of millions allocated for help and plenty more millions coming.”

The Pakistan floods have affected around 16 million people with the death toll already at around 1,600. Roads have been swept away, especially in the north of the country, making relief efforts extremely difficult. The United Nations Secretary General has described it as the worst disaster he has every seen.

Mr. Kocian explained what People in Need plans to do in what now looks like being a long-haul mission.

Pakistani flood survivors struggle for biscuit packets distributed by volunteers in Muzaffargarh,  Pakistan,  photo: CTK
“Based on the scale of the operation we will probably stay here longer than one year moving from early emergency to the recovery phase and then onto rehabilitation. That is mostly rehabilitation of homes and village infrastructure etc.”

He says that one of the biggest challenges is that in a still highly rural economy, the floods have washed out farmers’ crops. That means that they will have no income over the next six months until the next harvest if they are lucky enough to be able to plant crops.

Recriminations about international aid for Pakistan as well as its own domestic response have been accompanied by explanations for the reticence. Some speak of the country’s image problem with worries that aid funds could be siphoned off due to corruption or might end up in the pockets of Taliban insurgents.