How Pakistani Entrepreneurs Responded After the Floods | News on the climate crisis

Jamshoro, Pakistan – Monsoon floods ravaged large parts of Pakistan last month, overwhelming disaster management efforts. But nonprofits and dozens of entrepreneurs, young and old, stepped in as their country faced its worst disaster in decades.

There is a huge need for everything – from tents to blankets, from mosquito nets to water purification, from food to hygiene kits, and from antimalarial drugs to basic fever medication.

“Millions and millions of people do not have access to water, housing and food. We saw children malnourished and suffering from skin diseases, diarrhoea, everything you can imagine,” Abdullah Fadil, the Pakistani representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), told Al Jazeera. .

Fadil said more resources were needed, such as medicine and therapeutic food for children and nursing and pregnant mothers, 680,000 of whom are among the 33 million people affected by the floods.

“We need the world to really pay attention to the dire needs of children and mothers in Pakistan. I hope the world will pay attention to this calamity caused by climate change,” he said.

Last week, UN chief Antonio Guterres said he had not seen “climate carnage of this magnitude” after visiting the flood-hit South Asian nation.

The international response has been slow so far, so some Pakistanis are doing their best to help their fellow citizens. Here are some of their stories.

(Al Jazeera)

Shelter

The flood damaged or destroyed more than 1.5 million homes. For weeks people had to endure pouring rain and scorching sun because they had no shelter. Thousands of Pakistanis have donated tents and tarpaulins so people can find some respite.

Muhammad Omar, an advertising manager in the southern port city of Karachi, thought the best solution would be to rely on Panaflex sheets used on billboards.

“All we did was cut them into a four-by-three-meter rectangle, have our team install metal rivets so we could put them on hooks or tie them with strings, and that’s it. is played, we had an economical and easy to achieve solution. deploy shelters that could provide shade for desperate families made homeless by the floods,” Omar told Al Jazeera.

Since then, Omar and a group of volunteers have helped raise over $40,000 for dozens of tents and successfully transported them on trucks, helicopters and boats to remote areas including Keti Bunder, Kachee, Jhal Magsi, Gandakha, Sukkur and Khairpur. in the southern province of Sindh, the area most affected by the floods.

Tentmakers have seen this crisis as an opportunity, and hundreds of small and medium-sized factories have sprung up in major cities.

Water everywhere, not a drop to drink

Millions of people drink contaminated water in Pakistan, and some are forced to drink from pools where dead cattle float.

“UNICEF has distributed millions of liters of water, but it’s a drop in the ocean of what people need,” said Fadil, the UNICEF representative.

The World Health Organization has warned of multiple outbreaks due to unsanitary conditions for those displaced by the floods.

Economist Hamza Farrukh has been working to provide clean water without using electricity since 2014. Farrukh, through his non-profit Bondh-E-Shams – which translates to “droplets of sunshine” – used a solar-powered water filtration unit to purify contaminated water. .

The Solar Water Box provides a rugged, wheeled solar water filtration unit that can deliver up to 10,000 liters of filtered water per day, he says.

Rapidly increasing to 50 boxes per month, dozens of solar boxes have been deployed to help flood survivors in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh provinces. Filtered water can help control waterborne illnesses in addition to preventing people from becoming dehydrated.

The box is a semi-permanent solution because once the flood waters recede, the same units can be moved to permanent water sources in villages.

Bondh-E-Shams, Farrukh says, has provided around 50 million cups of clean water to 40 communities around the world, including Rohingyas in Bangladesh and others in need in Afghanistan, South Sudan, in Yemen and Pakistan.

Its goal is “to help reduce the global water crisis by 2050”.

Another startup, called PakVitae, offers a filter product that does not require electricity. Using gravity and attaching to the bottom of water tanks, the filters can supply up to 10,000 litres.

Jarri Masood, management consultant for PakVitae, explains that filters made from fiber membranes are used to remove most impurities and bacteria.

Since the floods began, PakVitae has donated a few units and has also started providing filters to rescuers. They have reduced the price: instead of 5,000 rupees ($22), they charge 4,000 rupees ($18) for flood relief, and they have added a 15 liter jerry can per unit for the units of flood relief.

Pakistan flood map
Enlight Lab, a non-profit organization, decided to gather data on flood-affected areas across Pakistan [Courtesy of Enlight Lab]

No electricity, no light

It is pitch black for tens of thousands of people living on small sections of dry land in most parts of Sindh, including Jamshoro. At least 101 people were treated for snakebites and 550 for dog bites.

Businessman Raza Zubair heard about the plight of flood victims during a Friday sermon. He and his friends provided solar-powered lamps for survivors.

Their lightweight solar lights have provided much-needed lighting to thousands of people.

Like other volunteers, Zubair, owner of solar company Sun King, is also distributing essentials including food rations, medicine, mosquito nets and toiletries.

His company has reduced the price of basic solar lamps for flood victims and has also introduced lanterns, which can also charge phones. A solar lamp now costs 1,000 rupees ($4.50) instead of 1,600 ($7.20), and a solar lantern costs 4,000 rupees ($18) instead of 6,500 ($29)

Backup aggregator

When many citizens, government agencies and NGOs start helping people, there is a risk of duplication and aid not reaching the right people.

Shafeeq Gigyani, the co-founder of Enlight Lab, was frustrated that he could not get relevant statistics for his ancestral village on the bank of the Swat River in the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Enlight Lab, a non-profit organization, decided to gather data on flood-affected areas across Pakistan. The company created Flood.PK, a crowdsourced platform that allows flood-affected people to call for help and field teams to respond.

Gigyani, who is based in Peshawar, says the data streamlines shelter, relief, medical aid, volunteer aid and fundraising while answering some questions about the floods.

Other crowdsourced aggregators and platforms such as FloodLight also provide similar datasets for volunteers and victims.

Floods in Pakistan
Victims of heavy flooding caused by monsoon rains stand next to their tents at a relief camp in Dasht near Quetta, Pakistan [Arshad Butt/AP Photo]

Rehabilitation

As relief and relief draws to a close, the glaring question is what will happen after the waters recede and the devastation. The main rehabilitation task would be to provide homes for hundreds of thousands of people.

How does a cash-strapped, debt-ridden economy pay for it?

Miran Saifi and three others founded Modulus Tech in 2017 to address Pakistan’s housing shortage. Even before the devastating floods, the country had a housing deficit of 10 million.

Modulus Tech aimed to provide easy-to-assemble homes for refugees around the world.

The Modulus Tech team is developing long-term solutions for flood survivors by designing homes that are inexpensive and can be installed immediately.

They use unconventional construction methods and off-grid solutions through responsible sourcing of durable, lightweight materials. They claim their homes now pollute 90% less than building traditional homes.

Afia Salam, chair of the board of Indus Earth Trust, says long-term rehabilitation solutions are just as important as emergency relief.

Along with her colleagues, she is trying to generate funds to rebuild houses by training masons and supervisors from flood-affected areas. Their designs include economical and local homes that also have a lower carbon footprint.

This is neither a complete nor exhaustive list, but a small representation of the hundreds of organizations old and new and the tens of thousands of selfless volunteers serving Pakistan as it goes through its worst climate calamity.

Floods in Pakistan
Displaced families who fled their flood-hit homes take shelter along a road in Jamshoro, southern Sindh province [Pervez Masih/AP Photo]

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