Parwan flood victims waiting for relief packages

A woman, in burqa, rushed towards me as she noticed my presence before the half-opened gate of her mud-walled house in the flood-hit area of Parwan. “My name is Suhaila and I have an 11-year-old daughter,” she told me as she revealed her face. The 35-year-old Suhaila asked me to visit her flood-hit home.

“My husband is drug-addicted; he cannot work for he is disabled,” Suhaila says, cleaning her tears. “I was a vendor, selling chewing gums on the street but now I have lost everything.”

On August 26, a devastating flashflood hit Afghanistan’s Parwan province, claiming 160 lives and wounding 130 people, according official figure. The flood wiped out as many as 127 houses and destroyed 371 residences, says Ramish Shamal, a social worker. 148 people including children and women lost their lives and another 187 were injured, says Mr. Shamal who is running a social welfare society in Parwan.

The August flashflood has forced hundreds of Parwan families to live on relief and food packages which are aided by volunteer aid groups, NGOs and individuals.

Suhaila, whose name was registered for aid, was not the only woman who was waiting for relief packages. Every family in her neighborhood had lost their belongings and livelihood to the flood.

Bibi Gul, 60, was in the same boat in which her entire hometown were. She approached me as I was listening to Suhaila’s painful story. Ms. Bibi took me to her house to show what the flood had done to it. The gate of her house was buried in mud. Rooms were filled with flashflood-brought mud, rubble and debris.

It was not all the heavy torrential rain has brought on the 60-year-old Bibi. She has lost her husband and two married sons to the flood. For the time being, she is living with her widowed daughter-in-laws and young orphaned grandsons.

“My daughter-in-laws are illiterate. Life is not easy for us; there were days my grandchildren went to bed hungry but we have survived.”

Of the whole relief packages sent to and distributed for Parwan flood victims, Bibi Gul says, she has received a bottle of cooking oil and small sack of rice. She complains that corrupt officials along with rich people have plundered relief packages sent for flood victims.

Many NGO workers and government staffers visit the flood-hit area for a photo opportunity, claims Mr. Shamal.  “Majority of people come here to show off. Neither government officials nor local leaders are honest.”

Shamal, who heads Great Shamali Youth Council, says that the flood has hit hard families who were dependent either on agriculture or small street businesses.

In the flood-hit area, I met an old man with his seemingly ill-son in the second floor of a two story house. The old man who was unable to move and talk had lost his family members and belongings to flood. He was crying in a way a wounded army veteran cries in loss of his comrades.

Farzana, who looked in her mid-30s, was sitting close to window, watching the ruins and damages the flood had brought on them. The old man was sick but flood worsened his health condition, said Farzana about the old man who squatted in a deathlike silence.

With a broken foot, the 17-year-old Ameena was sitting quiet. The flood destroyed my house, she told me as I excused to talk. Around 03:00 am, the scary roar of flood woke me up, I jumped into the next house as flood hit my house, Ameena says. Her parents lost their lives after the flood-hit wall collapsed on them. She has lost three siblings to flood and the dead body of her sister is still missing.

Ameena, 17, on the right, posing for a photo

Illegal constructions coupled with arbitrary buildings made by the nouveau riches has undermined civic infrastructure in Parwan. Poor civic management has made the city more fragile to torrential rain, according to Parwan residents.

Hasiba Efat, a former member of Parwan provincial council, in a tweet posted on August 26, blamed local government for poor flood management in Parwan.

Abdul Salam Sediqqi, a member of Parwan provincial council, says that there is no exact figure about relief packages and donations donated and brought for Parwan flood victims. Some NGOs, government organizations, and volunteer groups took aid packages after the flashflood hit Parwan.

Climate change and monsoon rains pose threats to population who are living in Afghanistan’s urban areas which are built arbitrarily. Every year, natural catastrophe claims human lives in the country which is in the grip of a bloody war, poor governance and corrupt officials.

 

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