World Bank Support Mission visits Manchhar Lake areas; holds meetings with communities and civil society representatives
By Rehan Khan Khushik
The World Bank-funded Cash-for-Work Program under the Sindh Flood Emergency Rehabilitation of Sindh Government will be launched soon with active participation of local communities, among women and children at Manchhar Lake and surrounding flood-hit far flung areas.
The World Bank Support Mission led by Task Team Leader Ahsan Tehsin visited the Manchhar Lake areas on Saturday May 27, 2023. The WB Mission arrived in Sehwan after visiting the Manchhar Lake areas including the main regulator of the Aral Canal and Lake Manchhar. The Mission also held a meeting with the civil society of the Sehwan area to discuss issues related to the Manchhar and flood-hit areas at Irrigation Rest House.
World Bank Support Mission members included Tiziana Smith, Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, Mishka Zaman, Sana Ahmed, Farha Yamin Khan, Ms. Nihan Rafiq, and Ms. Amna Memon, Shams ul Haq Jafrani, Aijaz Shaikh, Shahid Suhail, Naseer Memon and Mehrunisa who discussed the solution of the problems.
The World Bank Support Mission reviewed the status of ongoing restoration work as part of the Sindh Flood Emergency Rehabilitation Project at Manchhar Lake and the main Aral Canal Regulatory Area.
These works include increasing the capacity of the Aral Canal from 12,000 Cusec to 52,000 Cusec to effectively divert water from Manchhar to the Indus River and protecting region from future disasters. “The embankment height has been raised from 123 feet to 130 feet as part of the World Bank-supported Sindh Flood Emergency Rehabilitation Project,” experts told.
They indicated that local communities are highly dependent on fishing, agriculture and ranching and that these areas are highly vulnerable to flooding and that the World Bank-funded SFERP will have multiple impacts on the maintenance of fisheries, agriculture and livestock.
Nari Development Organization head, Azra Memon, proposed the World Bank mission to restore the livelihood support for women, who badly suffered during 2022 floods. She pointed out that women and children during the flood devastation, suffered and lost their pets, homes and all their valuables, even developed mental health problems when they returned.
Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum Chairman Mustafa Mirani expressed his satisfaction over the quick renovation and suggested that the 39 damaged RO plants at Manchhar Lake could be operated to supply drinking water to the affected areas.
He informed that there was a serious water shortage as the groundwater was not fit for human consumption. He said that increasing the capacity of the control valves at Aral Head would reduce the dangerous situation during Manchhar Lake floods especially.
Community representative Abdul Khaliq Sarki said the renovation of Manchhar and the Aral main regulator would protect surrounding villages from future flooding.
Raza Panhwar, a grower from the region said that 0.2 million people in the region as well as farmland, houses, roads and other infrastructure were badly affected by the floods.
Manzoor Jamali, a social activist from the Manchhar Lake region, told the World Bank Mission that 5000 school children were also affected by the floods and displaced in the region, who need proper education as their schools were destroyed. He said they also needed healthcare and potable water.
Mishka Zaman Senior Social Safeguard Specialist of the World Bank emphasized the need for community involvement in the various phases of the project. She pointed out that the project has an effective grievance mechanism where the community can suggest or voice their suggestions and concerns.
Farha Yameen Khan, Members of the World Bank Support Mission said that women faced many challenges during the floods and needed social and psychological support.
“Community engagement and feedback are critical to the success of the project,” Naseer Memon, senior livelihood expert at the World Bank, said at the meeting.
“Citizens’ watch groups in all flood-affected counties will act as a bridge between the government and the community,” Naseer Memon told.