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A Citizens Charter on Post Floods Rebuilding and Reform Agenda

15 December 2010

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(Posted below is a set of demands released by civil society organisations in Pakistan following a meeting on ’Post Floods Rebuilding and Reform Agenda’ in Lahore on December 3, 2010. This is a part of the process of wider consultation of CSOs to develop a Citizens Charter to reflect Civil Society’s position on post floods reform and reconstruction.
The process was initiated following a two day conference in Karachi jointly
organised by PILER, Sungi, SAP-Pk, PFF and CPCS in mid Nov 2010. There were 54 participants representing 27 organizations (from all four provinces and capital) in the Lahore consultation on Dec 3. These included SAP-PK, PFF, PILER, Pattan, SAHARA, Dase, IEWS, Shirkatgah, PODA, EHD, MLF, SAP-PK, Omar Asghar Khan Foundation, Khwando Kor, WRA, CPCS and BLLF among others.)

Meeting on Post Floods Rebuilding and Reform Agenda

Citizens Charter

Lahore, Dec 3, 2010

Representative Assembly of civil society met in Lahore and expressed its
dissatisfaction over current relief and rehabilitation efforts for the flood
victims. The civil society unanimously crafted a set of priority points
concerning immediate relief and rehabilitation of the flood affectees.

The civil society members noted with concern that social and regional
disparities already existing have sharpened because of the floods. The civil
society is of strong opinion that these deepening gaps should be bridged by
the state adopting a plan for crafting a new social contract with the
citizens that highlights rights and entitlements of citizens and the
responsibilities of the state.

It also pointed out that the relief response by the state demonstrated deep
flaws as the relief efforts have been slow, inadequate, and politically
partisan.

The civil society members demanded the state to revisit its exclusionary
national policies that lie at the root of the existing social and economic
gaps the burden of which has to be borne by the poor and the deprived of
Pakistan. The country’s social, economic, commerce, foreign, and national
security policies all are extremely exclusionary in nature and need to be
redeveloped incorporating a pro-people agenda of development and progress.

They noted with concern that the over centralized disaster management
structures and dismantling of the local government bodies reinforced the
damage caused by the floods. The state needs to restore these structures and decentralize disaster management to enable a quick state response to
disasters.

The meeting also demanded immediate implementation of senate resolution on debt write off. Rather than continuing with its white elephant existence, the state should introduce austerity measures and control defense spending.

They also expressed displeasure over UN mechanism for disaster response
which was flawed, very slow and bypassed the local potential.

The set of demands related to strengthening of relief and rehabilitation
efforts jointly issued by the Civil Society at the end of the meeting in
Lahore includes:

  • The amount promised by the state under the Watan Cards system
    should be released immediately. The state must announce a date by which time the second installment of the Watan Cards is released.
  • The criterion for issuing of Watan Card is highly exclusionary and
    riddled with systemic flaws. It blatantly excludes people with no ID cards
    and widowed women by way of the provision for ‘head of the family’. The
    state should redevelop the criteria for issuing the CNIC for floods
    affectees. They should either be given temporary ID cards or be issued new
    ID cards based on community evidence and other flexible criteria*. *
  • The current functional set up regulating the Watan Cards is flawed
    too. In many parts of the country, the ATM machines are not operating. The
    government should set up mobile ATMs for the Watan Cards. Moreover, there should be a complaint centre to deal with the issues related to the Watan Cards.
  • There is substantial information gap with regards to the Farmers
    Package, its content and the mechanism concerning its distribution. Due to
    the lack of information, farmers are unable to access the package. The state
    should address the issue of duplication of channels of distribution for
    Farmers Package as currently, the FAO, PRSP and the Punjab Government all are simultaneously serving as means of distribution of Farmers Package.
  • The quality of fertilizers and seeds in the Farmers Package are
    highly compromised. The government should not give hybrid and poor quality seeds in the Farmer’s Package.
  • Schools and health units destroyed during the course of floods
    should be immediately reconstructed. The new reconstructed structures should be accessible to women.
  • State land should be distributed among flood affectees, especially
    women.
  • Flood affectees should be registered for social security without
    delay. Workers who have lost their livelihood during the course of floods
    must be immediately provided unemployment allowance.
  • The means of communication destroyed during the floods must be
    restored and their future construction quality and design should incorporate
    risk reduction.
  • The state should make the rehabilitation plan public and invite
    broader consultation for rehabilitation.
  • There is consensus that the damage caused by the floods in
    vulnerable areas such as Swat, Kohistan, Dir, and Jaffarabad has further
    aggravated the situation as a few of these areas were already facing
    military operations while also struggling with economic and social
    marginalization and deprivation. These regions should be paid special
    attention for relief operations while their rehabilitation should also
    incorporate a broad-based agenda of improving the economies, social service delivery and rebuilding of state society relations.
  • The donor agencies’ reluctance to work with local non governmental
    bodies is highly objectionable since local NGOs, being a part of grassroots,
    are in a better position to deliver on assistance. The donor agencies should
    work with local NGOs and the government too can make this as a condition for international donors to work in Pakistan.
  • Relief camps should not be dismantled for population of areas
    where there is water and living conditions are not favorable. Winter needs
    for clothing, bedding and shelter should be immediately provided. State
    should also provide transportation for returning displaced persons.