Flood-hit southern Punjab continues to live in misery

Posted on 18 mars, 2011

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VIEWPOINT | The horn of the small minibus is hoarse by now and my scribbling in my note-pad is difficult to read. During hours long journey, it was impossible to write properly with a shaky hand, made to tremble all the time by a bumpy road. The roads leading to the villages outside Muzafargarh, in southern Punjab —-washed away by flash floods last year— have not been rebuilt yet.

As we leave the town, large, full mango trees are lining the road until they are replaced by deeply green wheat fields and sugar cane fields spread as far as one can see. It is harvest time. Trucks and tractors that are filled both vertically and horizontally with sugar canes drive slowly down the roads. As they roll through the smaller cities, the children run alongside the trucks to pull out a sugar cane and suck on it like a giant lollipop.

At first it is hard to imagine a flood in this area. The river of Chenab is not even half full in the beginning of March. But large tent cities and make shift houses, donated by various aid organizations, remind one of the great catastrophe. Fact is that this area does not usually flood during the yearly monsoon rains between June and August. But last year the floods wrought havoc on lives, property, food, fields and crops in the largest environmental catastrophe in the country’s history.

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