Catholics responding to flooding in Pakistan and India
By Jennifer Hardy
Baltimore, Md., Sep 17, 2011 / 07:14 pm (CNA).- While 6 to 8 feet of water submerges homes in Orissa province in India, floodwaters are packing a second punch to people in Sindh province, Pakistan. Half of the people Catholic Relief Services plans to assist in Sindh are still rebuilding their homes and farms after deadly flooding in 2010, setting them further back on the path toward recovery.
There is widespread need in both Pakistan and India. In the four districts the Catholic charity is prioritizing in Pakistan – among the poorest in the country – more than 200,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed. Jack Byrne, country representative for Pakistan, said “This is a double blow for many of the families affected by the current flood. They lost so much in the 2010 floods, and were beginning to get back on their feet. They’ve lost their crops, homes and belongings for the second time in a year.”
Teams from Catholic Relief Services India report some people waiting to be rescued from the tops of their houses, while others have made it to embankments but lack sufficient shelter.
Catholic Relief Services is coordinating a response in both countries.
People displaced and affected by the floods need ways to purify drinking water, hygiene items, shelter while they wait for waters to recede and boats for transportation. Many smaller roads have been washed away, and the only way to reach some communities is through murky water filled with submerged debris. The Catholic charity and partner organizations are determining how many people need assistance and the safest and most efficient way to move aid to affected communities.
Just last month Catholic Relief Services (CRS) conducted an emergency response training for 20 staff from partner organizations on water treatment in India. “We are not able to stop the monsoons from coming, but we can build a stronger and more capable response team when flooding happens,” said Cassie Dummett, head of programming in India.
“CRS Pakistan employees are trained and prepared to respond to emergencies such as this,” said Byrne. “But it’s heartbreaking to see families who were just getting back on their feet have to start over yet again.”
Jennifer Hardy is a CRS communications officer for digital and new media, based in Baltimore. Visit CRS at: http://www.crs.org/