The IT manager learnt how early warning systems, raised homes and evacuation boats prevented even more casualties from the devastating floods that swamped the country almost three months ago, affecting more than 20 million people.
During his visit to Rajanpur, in South Punjab, Talha also saw how the money donated to the flood appeal is being used and how Oxfam is taking steps to develop more preventative measures to help people prepare for the changing climate, which is expected to bring more intense floods in the future.
Talha said: “In the areas I visited there had been a lot of preventative work done to help people prepare for flooding. In Rajanpur, Oxfam and its partners managed to evacuate around 12,000 people with 12 boats to higher ground. With floods likely to become more intense due to a changing climate, it is important that communities are helped to protect themselves for the future. I found the scale of the devastation is unimaginable. The waters have now dried up in many areas but crops cannot be grown because the fertile topsoil has been washed away and sand has covered large areas of land. We are looking at huge shortages of food for people so there is still a lot to do”
“ I also saw how hygiene kits were distributed to people after the floods to reduce the risks of disease such as diarrhea and cholera.”
Talha was particularly touched after speaking to a young girl called Rabiya, who had helped evacuate people to safety during the floods.
Rabiya said: “When the floods came, the children made a group of 20 and then went to the elders to confirm whether high flood waters were coming. Once confirmed we went around the villages to tell people to get to raised platforms and also evacuate their belongings.”
Oxfam’s country director, Neva Khan, said: “We feel extremely proud with the money raised by the British public but we have only scratched the surface. So much more needs to be done and a lot more money needs to be given towards the reconstruction of Pakistan both in the short term and in the long term. "
“Right now, people need the basics - and with the winter coming shelter is a major priority. In the long term, we need to ensure that communities have the protection that they need from flooding, which could be far worse in the future.”
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