Fire victims call for help as incident engulf all assets, grains, livestock in villages
HYDERABAD: Though the fire incidents are common every summer, they usually play a havoc with the poor communities. Hit as a calamity in rural areas of Sindh the fire incident victims have not received any support from the government’s disaster management authorities.
A large number of families in Thar desert’s village Odhani in Tehsil Chachro, district Tharparkar are still waiting to receive any support from the government authorities to rebuild their thatched shelters. The government has still not announced any compensation package to these victims as they have lost everything in the fire disaster.
Habiban, living in the village Odhani giving her reaction said: “Fire has burnt everything, our provision and grain kept in sacs, cloths, means everything was burnt. Now we are sitting under the scorching Sun, without any help.” She like other women households looks very upset because they have lost everything in the tragedy. The fire erupts in the village every summer month, turning everything, available at makeshift homes, into ashes and leave the poor communities in helpless situation. The district government of Tharparkar estimated the loss Rs.60.5 million in the village, which included their huts, livestock, grain stored for the whole year, ornaments kept in the boxes and clothes.
Thar is being echoed in media, portraying the food insecure people, where children are with malnutrition. Local people narrating their plight said the fire engulfed the whole village in no time and ended in ashes. It burnt all the groceries provisions, clothing of the people kept in their houses and livestock. Dwellers could only manage to run to save their lives during the incident. It was the most tragic and miserable moment when people could only watch and wait looking their alive domestic animals which includes goats, sheep, hens and camels burning in the fire, the villagers stood helpless against the merciless fire.
Usually incidents occur in scattered areas, burning wheat crops, villages and huts in different locations go unreported, leaving the victim families in helpless situation. Villages at sand dunes in the desert comprising mainly of makeshift huts are vulnerable to the fire, which always engulf and destroy all belongings, including livestock of the people .
Obviously it is natural phenomenon that frequent fire incidents in summer season has cause huge loss to both shelters and food crops, mainly wheat in many areas of the province, which impacted badly to the communities. There is no contingency plans at the district authorities, despite the tall claims by the government to have been alert to cope with any disaster.
A non-governmental organisation Fast Rural Development Program (FRDP), which is working in disaster mitigation and advocating with the government institutions to provide access to potable water, claims to have responded to the fire incident and helped 200 fire affected families in the Odhani Village in Tharparkar district. The organisation has distributed food ration of one month with the generous support of penny appeal to the affected people and handed over the list to the district government of Tharparkar.
Despite passing 10 days of the incident, the affected people were waiting for someone who may come and help them in their hard time. FRDP stepped forward, as it was working in the area; set out for the rapid need assessment. Reports collected through local newspapers and social media show a frequent incidents in many areas, and Thar desert stayed as center of the fire incidents, which caused colossal loss. Mohammad Achar Bozdar, Chairman FRDP said they always respond to the disaster and initiate to avoid risks through capacity building of the rural communities, who live uncertain lives.
He said Sindh has different ecological zones, including coastline, forests, desert and wetlands. Like this the communities there have been facing different natural phenomenon, like drought, cyclone and flood. But, he said, above all the fire disaster is yet to be mentioned at forums working on disaster risks. This is newly emerging threats to the people and government as well as development organizations should take step ahead to help the people, affected by fire incidents.
Anyway, there is no exact data about the fire incidents and its loss at any level, the government and those working on disaster risk reduction (DRR) must respond to this promptly to avert the incidents and help the people, Bozdar said.