Last Sunday a friend invited me to go and see some of the rehabilitation work going on in the flood ravaged areas of Sindh. The work is being carried out by Karachi Relief Trust, a disaster management voluntary organisation, that has morphed into providing longer term solutions like re-building homes destroyed by the floods.
Armed with my camera and an extra battery I hopped into his car and we headed out towards Korangi then took the National Highway to Thatta district. Yes, I did need the extra battery; there was a lot to photograph!
Driving through fields of sugarcane and sunflowers, with a touch of serene blue provided by the shimmering fish ponds, it was difficult to imagine that last year the same area was submerged in flood water. Out of 1.7 million people in Thatta district, over 800,000 were directly affected and displaced by the floods. On the way we saw relief work being done by foreign and local organisations.
We visited the villages of Suleiman Kehrai, Nodo-Baran and Jati-Angario. What was immediately obvious was the alternate forms of construction. The new stone houses consisted of two bedrooms, a kitchen and a bath whereas previously, the villagers were living in homes that were made of straw, bamboo and mud. These were vulnerable in the floods whereas, the new houses have a life expectancy of at least 75-100 years. In the event of future flooding, the occupants could flee but would have somewhere to return to after conditions improved instead of being displaced and forsaken by the state.
The next village, Nodo-Baran, provided an example of the use of solar power. Eight solar panels mounted on a roof provided enough power to drive a motor. The motor in turn was hooked up to a pump that was pulling the water out of a borehole. The water was stored in an overhead tank. A piping network distributed water to the houses.
For lighting, each house was provided with two energy efficient bulbs that were powered by individual (thus very small) solar panels.