It is easy to lose sight of the magnitude of the losses in Pakistan.
Even as we travel by boat through the heavily affected Dadu district of Sindh province, I struggle to understand what lies beneath the water. But we soon hear the horrific stories of a community overwhelmed by loss.
Crops, homes, livelihoods – all submerged.
The Kacha region is normally dry. In some places it is now 20 feet deep.
I can barely make out the tiny slip of a school roof protruding from the surface. Nearby – a mosque is totally submerged.
In Sindh alone, 16,000 schools have been damaged or destroyed. Life will be put on the back burner for months to come. And it is expected to get worse.
In the distance, we see a group of young boys rushing to higher ground – huddled together on a mound of crumbling mud. They call us ashore – behind a crumbling wall are the people of Jan Mohammad.
Most have lost their homes and have gathered on what little land remains here. There are suitcases packed I hope. They were stuck for three weeks without clean water and very little food.
Lal Khatoon, who emerges as the village matriarch – an energetic and passionate presence in a weary-looking group of people, tells me: “No one has come here to help.
“Thank God my children have arrived here. But now they have a fever and stomach problems.”
She wants to show me her house, but it’s impossible to see – now totally underwater.
There are about 100 people in this village and many children are getting sick. Waterborne diseases are spreading.
A mother shows me her son who is crying intensely.
His little body is covered in white spots and she says he got them from the flood.
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Activist Malala Yousafzai is featured in the appeal for donations to help those affected by the floods.
Lal Khatoon’s three-month-old grandson is also in pain – he has a high fever.
The conditions are cramped – a goat digs through the remains of a child’s small food bowl.
I see a medicine bottle, but it’s surrounded by flies and the children look terribly skinny.
There is no sign of aid trucks here, no planes dropping supplies. And the villagers fear that if they leave, there will be no food or shelter anywhere else.
But it’s a risk to stay put. More flood waters from the north are expected to arrive here in the coming days. The few remaining houses may not survive.
During the 2010 floods, help reached this community. Not this time.
Pakistan is considered a climate hotspot. Yes, it is a victim of its geography. And yes, political and economic instability has left him underprepared for this crisis.
But it also has a surprisingly low carbon footprint. He emerged as a victim of man-made disaster and global apathy.
Who foots the bill for disasters like this that strike the most vulnerable and, more importantly, who pays to prevent them, should be the subject of urgent and intense debate. And yet, this is still not the case.
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