The University of Texas at Austin
  • Pakistan floods rival earthquakes, tsunamis in severity

    By Abdul Haque Chang, Anthropology Ph.D. student
    Abdul Haque Chang, Anthropology Ph.D. student
    Published: Oct. 22, 2010
    Flood waters cover the area near the border of Sindh and Balochistan.Photo: Salman Siddiqui

    Abdul Haque Chang is a Fulbright Scholar and graduate student in the Department of Anthropology. He’s working on the issue of governance of water resources management in Pakistan. His major focus is to bring an ethnographic perspective to the issue of waste, scarcity and abundance of water resources management according to different strata of society.

    No one could imagine that the water-deprived, thirsty land of Pakistan would see massive devastation due to an excess of water rather than a lack of it. The flood came like an unstoppable alien invasion, wrecking all that stood in its way.

    It not just shocked, but terrified the people of Pakistan, who were already going through serious economic problems. Many are still going through the trauma.

    The image of displaced people that was spread by electronic and print media haunted people’s imagination about rural areas. The countryside was no longer a scenic rustic locale, unspoiled by modern science and inhabited by friendly, hospitable people. Now, we see everywhere just water and long lines of people moving on roads with their water buffaloes, goats, sheep and other minimal belongs they were able to save amid the disaster.

    According to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon the level of this disaster is higher than the Haiti earthquake, the 2004 Asia tsunami and the 2005 Pakistan earthquake combined. He said this is a slow “tsunami.”

    After visiting flood-affected areas in Pakistan, Ban said, “Pakistan floods are the worst disaster I’ve ever seen.”

    According to official estimates from the government of Pakistan and other sources, about 28 million people are affected, and about 10 million people are homeless. It is estimated that about 2,000 people have died in Pakistan since the flooding began. According to reports, the worst floods in the past 80 years have inundated an area the size of Italy. Landslides and flashfloods have washed away entire villages, and two million acres of farmland have been uprooted. Waterborne disease such as diarrhea and cholera threaten the victims.

    Aid agencies and the government of Pakistan have declared that it will take six months to one year for people to go back to their homes and resume their normal lives. However, in the most hard hit areas such as Sindh and Baluchistan provinces, it will take more than two years to return to normalcy.

    One of the reasons Sindh and Baluchistan have been affected the most is that when the Indus River enters Sindh it becomes a mighty river, and in superfloods it overflows into canals and the water goes to nearby areas.

    According to the government of Sindh, more than 10 million people are living in camps after their homes flooded. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sindh and Baluchistan provinces have not only been ignored by national and international media, but these areas have not been provided with enough help by aid agencies, and people are living in miserable conditions.

    I want to request that University of Texas at Austin faculty, students and staff please come forward to help these people at this critical time in history. Even a little help can save many lives.

    I also want to request that the university’s president, the governor of Texas and the president of the United States of America help these people and create a program providing scholarships to students from the most affected areas of Sindh and Baluchistan.

    We have an example in the Bush/Clinton Fulbright Tsunami Relief Initiative Master’s Degree program created for the students of Aceh, Indonesia, after the 2004 Asian tsunami. This program helped hundreds of students study in the U.S. and, after completion of their degrees, they went back to play important roles in rebuilding Aceh.

    It is my wish that such serious efforts may also be taken to help the worst hit areas in Pakistan.

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      Lynn said on Feb. 19, 2012 at 8:00 p.m.
      I hope that there will be more updates to this as Chang does his research in Sindh. Let's keep this topic going, as catastrophes too easily leave the public eye soon after they occur. I would disagree with the UN comparison of the floods in Pakistan with Haiti as the former's having a greater level of disaster. The loss of life, home, and livelihood in both cases is devastating. In the case of Haitian earthquake, 158,000-316,000 people were killed during the event itself. This does not measure its aftermath, and we need research like Chang's to be able to talk about the long term effects of these disasters.
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      Jennifer Doherty said on Jan. 6, 2012 at 3:49 p.m.
      While the Earth has always endured natural climate change variability, we are now facing the possibility of irreversible climate change in the near future. The increase of greenhouse gases in the Earth?s atmosphere from industrial processes has enhanced the natural greenhouse effect. This in turn has accentuated the greenhouse ?trap? effect, causing greenhouse gases to form a blanket around the Earth, inhibiting the sun?s heat from leaving the outer atmosphere. This increase of greenhouse gases is causing an additional warming of the Earth?s surface and atmosphere. A direct consequence of this is sea-level rise expansion, which is primarily due to the thermal expansion of oceans (water expands when heated), inducing the melting of ice sheets as global surface temperature increases. Forecasts for climate change by the 2,000 scientists on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) project a rise in the global average surface temperature by 1.4 to 5.8°C from 1990 to 2100. This will result in a global mean sea level rise by an average of 5 mm per year over the next 100 years. Consequently, human-induced climate change will have ?deleterious effects? on ecosystems, socio-economic systems and human welfare.At the moment, especially high risks associated with the rise of the oceans are having a particular impact on the two archipelagic states of Western Polynesia: Tuvalu and Kiribati. According to UN forecasts, they may be completely inundated by the rising waters of the Pacific by 2050.According to the vast majority of scientific investigations, warming waters and the melting of polar and high-elevation ice worldwide will steadily raise sea levels. This will likely drive people off islands first by spoiling the fresh groundwater, which will kill most land plants and leave no potable water for humans and their livestock. Low-lying island states like Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and the Maldives are the most prominent nations threatened in this way.“The biggest challenge is to preserve their nationality without a territory,” said Bogumil Terminski from Geneva. The best solution is continue to recognize deterritorialized states as a normal states in public international law. The case of Kiribati and other small island states is a particularly clear call to action for more secure countries to respond to the situations facing these ‘most vulnerable nations’, as climate change increasingly impacts upon their lives.
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      Womens handbags said on May 16, 2011 at 7:04 a.m.
      I want to thank you from the core of my heart for doing such a research. Just now I completed reading your post and also find the tips to be useful. I will surely try to keep all those points in mind.
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      Stevie said on Jan. 23, 2011 at 1:39 p.m.
      Interesting blog, not like the others! Abdul Haque Chang is a very interesting subject to learn about!
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      shams ul haq chang said on Nov. 18, 2010 at 1:09 a.m.
      well done dear .
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      Asad Hasan said on Nov. 2, 2010 at 8:18 p.m.
      Imaculata article Chang bhai... very happy to read this
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      Nawaz Khan Zaor said on Nov. 1, 2010 at 2:02 p.m.
      There in Sindh above than one crore people are effected during flood of Indus River. They all people are helpless, Pakistan govt. leave them hungry, thirsty & in painful conditions. Oh! Universal Conscious! do help of Sindhi People.
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      Shah Muhammad Butt said on Nov. 1, 2010 at 12:50 p.m.
      Ada your efforts are really appriciatable, I like to suggest you to please publish your writting widly, like Facebook,twiter,linkedin,myspace,your blogs and forums, I will really make some change, and keep focus majot areas, like rehablitation, health and other issues of flood victums. Keep it up
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      Razaque said on Oct. 29, 2010 at 10:00 a.m.
      I liked the advice. Besides Humanitarian aid for emergency relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction, Developed Countries in general and U.S.A in particular come forward for constructive and sustainable change for the people of flood affected areas. Very good and timely advice!
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      Aisha Agha said on Oct. 28, 2010 at 11:56 a.m.
      Ada you present a clear picture of flood effected areas, I support your idea and in favor of scholarships for affectees, but I also want to highlight and remind you about the minorities like Hindus, Christians and vulnerable groups like women and infant. They suffered a lot, they are suffering and on risk of different diseases, infants and children are malnourished, they are also in need of medical facilities along with food and education.
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      Badwi M. Amin said on Oct. 28, 2010 at 11:45 a.m.
      Mr. Chang has pointed out an important point in relation to access to better education for the people coming from devastated areas due to disaster, and how they can contribute on re-building their homeland.... and small contribution from everyone could safe many life. I absolutely agree. Nevertheless, I am questioning his statement 'quote' from UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-Moon that the Pakistan flood, it is worse than Asian Tsunami 2004 in term of # of people effected, # of people homeless, # of dead (life lost) as well as damaged of infrastructure due to these disaster....
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      Aisha Agha said on Oct. 28, 2010 at 11:27 a.m.
      Ada really great effort, May God give you courage to achieve your goals.
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      Niaz said on Oct. 28, 2010 at 8:04 a.m.
      Dear Chang Sahib, it is good initiative; people of Sindh and Balochistan suffered from this natural disaster and the disaster that was created by Army through breaking the dykes which is clear in many reports and in the series of articles of BBC Urdu "Sindh Kio Dooba" by Aijaz Mahar. Due to encroachments in Indus river and by Land Lords' private dykes that does not give the normal passage to Indus river to flow; and flaws in the engineering of bridges over River Indus just as Larkana Khairpur bridge which gives narrow passage to the flow of water of Indus. We should support and help these two poorest, deprived and most suffered provinces of Pakistan.
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      Ayaz Ali Chandio said on Oct. 28, 2010 at 2:28 a.m.
      USA government is requested to make a contribution in eduction sector through providing scholarships to the flood affected poor students of rural Sindh and Balochistan as they are not able to continue their higher studies. I strongly agree with Mr. Chang' suggestions.
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      Sadia Mahmood said on Oct. 28, 2010 at 2:25 a.m.
      This is a very thoughtful piece of writing by Abdul Haque.I hope that not only UT Austin but other US schools as well come forward to help maintain a bridge of education for the students of flood hits areas in Pakistan. A large number of schools has been destroyed by flood waters not only in Sindh and Balochistan provinces of Pakistan but also in Khyber Pakhtoonkhawh and in Punjab , thus leaving thousands without schools and education. I am proud of Abdul Haque for being the torch bearer for such a wonderful suggestion. Thank you indeed.
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      Asif said on Oct. 27, 2010 at 11:41 p.m.
      Brother, I read your Blog which is very useful and informative.I appreciate your efforts to bring the issue in spotlight. I can understand the miseries and difficulties faced by my people back home, and it becomes our prime responsiblity to do what ever we can. I support your demand for scholarships for the deprived students of Sindh and Balochistan Provinces. They can help in rebuilding the infrastrucre after returning and also establish early warning systems to help communities protect themselves before the catastrophie actually hits the area. Being away from home I have been following the news and I think our government and our isntitutions are not capable of dealing with such disasters, the government should allocate enough amount and build the capacities of emergency response institutions, so that the damage can be minimised in future.
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      Naushad Khalique said on Oct. 27, 2010 at 11:00 p.m.
      Few days back in a meeting with UNICEF I asked them if they thought of some long term strategy to coordinate with government of Pakistan in improving the education in post flood scenario. Their response was not much satisfying. It appeared that they only wish to contribute in emergency situation. My actual question is, what will happen to these students, when they will have to compete for merit in future for jobs and higher studies? As chang requests to seek here the international support in education, I too wish to repeat that the same. However, these scholarships should be specifically be designed that fulfill the needs of these survivors.
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      Bhavya said on Oct. 27, 2010 at 12:21 p.m.
      It is truly sad to see what is happening in Pakistan. Equally disturbing is the ignorance about it in the U.S.
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      Sajid khaskheli said on Oct. 27, 2010 at 11:41 a.m.
      Great , You have raised very basic issue and i really appreciate your efforts being carried out and it covers all fields of Students specially Engineering ones and others too but you should post recent updates being faced by Pakistan and specially recent flood situations and it was severe disaster for entire Pakistan. By the way , Good initiative by you and your voice may go in diverse direction and hopefully for benefit of the society.
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      Siraj Ahmed said on Oct. 27, 2010 at 10:36 a.m.
      Fantastic effort Mr.Chang, We fully support you in this regard. I think we not only have to rebuild the building blocks but we have to make sure that there is a serious quality education in these edifices, because there were buildings there before the floods as well but 80% of schools were closed due to various reckless reasons.
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      sharjil baloch said on Oct. 27, 2010 at 9:30 a.m.
      dear chang, i liked your views. why don't you translate some stories in english which have been published on about flood situation in sindh and balochistan provinces. there are so many videos which tell the real situation about the families and kids who have lost every thing including their books. now i am doing some films on kids , and majority of the students say that they have lost their schools and books too.
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      Abdul Haque Chang said on Oct. 27, 2010 at 8:56 a.m.
      Mr. Bughio i am writing another paper about post-flood situation. You can read that next time.
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      Doug Poretz said on Oct. 27, 2010 at 7:29 a.m.
      The real story here is that this is not a story in journalistic terms. Despite the size of the flood, despite the fallout and despite Pakistan's crucial role as a nuclear power in such a fragile part of the world, etc. etc., this has been almost invisible in the world media. There is a story in why this hasn't become the news story that it should be. Maybe that is a topic for the university's College of Communication -- there really should be some analysis of why this has been virtually ignored.
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      Faheem Fani said on Oct. 27, 2010 at 2:56 a.m.
      Its nice to see your contribution for the nation, however its time to accept challenge, bring change in attitude, lesson learn from history, concrete steps from ourselves first then look towards any body else...your suggestion is applicable, hope it would be consider by the authorities. Its time to take part in the process to ensure real term rehabilitation in any kind...Hope for the best......
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      Aijaz Ahmed said on Oct. 27, 2010 at 2:29 a.m.
      Thanks Chang for highlighting this issue to international community. This is a great human tragedy, pakistani people have been ever seen. We all as human being must help those flood affected poor people of rural areas of Sindh and Balochistan provinces as they have not food, shelter and any basic health facilities. Winter is going to be started in these areas but people have not shelters and warm clothes. We should contribute to these whatever we can. God bless u.
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      ting said on Oct. 27, 2010 at 12:53 a.m.
      good job. Now theTyphoon catfish is on our TaiWan and FuJian provinces. We need more person like you ~~~
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      Faishal Zakaria said on Oct. 26, 2010 at 11:55 p.m.
      Salam Bro Chang, This is such a great effort you've made. You writing piece has reminded me of what happened in Aceh in 2004 and what we went through in the aftermath of the worst earthquake and tsunami in history. I took us more than five years to rebuild and reconstruct (Thanks to the international communities who have provided kind and priceless assistance to us). However, it will take far more years to deal with our trauma. Therefore, I totally understand what the people of Pakistan are going through. In this sense, international communities need to go hand in hand to assist the people of Pakistan.
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      Mustafa Bughio said on Oct. 26, 2010 at 11:44 p.m.
      Please, update the page and highlight post-flood situation. The silent tsunami.
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      Sadaruddin Jatoi said on Oct. 26, 2010 at 11:10 p.m.
      I think Abdul Haq Chang has given blue picture of the disaster, resulting million of the families has been displaced, each and every thing (which is necessary for their livelihood)has been destroyed i.e. houses, crops, schools, hospital, all physical infrastructure has been collapsed. I think this is real time that international communities should come forward for the help of poor people. I appreciate the contribution /efforts of Abdul Haq. God bless you.
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      mansoor jatoi said on Oct. 26, 2010 at 6:45 p.m.
      this is really amazing work u doing.... appreciate it sir. this is how our official has to do that and they are sleeping-- most of people has no idea how bad Pakistan has been destroyed in economic view, property, land, million lives gone, million people went homeless, they still need help, they are dying in hunger, they are dying for a glass of water to survive. God bless every single person who has already done a lot for them and still need more help.God bless every one.
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      Pirzado Azhar Ayaz said on Oct. 26, 2010 at 6:28 p.m.
      It's really wonderful effort to highlight the problems of flood affected poor people of Sindh and Balochistan which have been neglected since they changed their nationality (from Indian to Pakistani). I support Mr. Haq's proposal to provide relief to homeless of above cited provinces in multitude because the floods have not only snatched their cattle and irrigated land (the means of livelihood) but also pushed them to the point which is not recoverable in couple of years... youth of these provinces must be nursed and cared so that they don't fall prey to any abominable activity and become a problem for society of Pakistan. They must be encouraged through scholarships and jobs in the country and abroad. I request authorities of Texas university, and state Texas and American president Mr. Obama to announce a relief in the form of scholarship for eligible candidates.
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      Abdul Salam said on Oct. 26, 2010 at 5:55 p.m.
      I think most of the buildings of educational institutes in rural Sindh and Baluchistan are gone with flood water. I think this scholarship also must be given to primary teachers -- and poor students in primary schools -- as their families lost everything and people have nothing to eat -- so in these conditions I am wondering how they will send their kids to school. Please help these people. They need you.
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      Imaculata said on Oct. 26, 2010 at 5:40 p.m.
      I think Mr. Chang has pointed to very important point to provide scholarship to students of Pakistan where flood have effected heavily. I think if UT works hard it can win hearts and minds of people of Pakistan. I support Mr. Chang and request same from Obama, and Governor of Texas. I think UT president can take initiative with the help of Mr. Chang. This will also boast image of UT all around the world that it is not merely educational institute but people in UT are also sensitive to help suffering human beings.
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      Aziz Ahmed said on Oct. 26, 2010 at 5:26 p.m.
      We support your petition that people from Sindh and Baluchistan need to be given scholarship to study at The University of Texas at Austin. State department, UT and Fulbright commission Pakistan can develop this program and University of Texas Austin can play leading role in it. This will help University in these budgets cuts days to get more resources from federal government and at the same time it can be the first educational institute in America to begin research on water governance in Pakistan by supporting Mr. Abdul Haque Chang’s research.
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      Waqar Ahmed said on Oct. 26, 2010 at 5:12 p.m.
      This is very well written and informative article. We support authors valuable suggestion for financial help in education sector (at all levels) in flood affected areas of Sindh and Balochistan.
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      Imaculata said on Oct. 26, 2010 at 5:11 p.m.
      This writing is an extraordinary one. I hope the Obama administration realizes that educating people of Sindh and Baluchistan is very important as they can manage Indus river, the historical river where modern Asian civilization began.
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      Isar Hussain Tunio said on Oct. 26, 2010 at 8:57 a.m.
      Great efforts....... valuable information.... All the best..
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      Lutaf Mangrio said on Oct. 26, 2010 at 8:38 a.m.
      Great effort u have made
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      Aziz Ahmad Jamali said on Oct. 26, 2010 at 6:58 a.m.
      The analysis is correct to the core and my visits to these flooded areas substantiate the biggest concern i.e. certain pockets of Sindh & Balochistan remain worst affected yet least attended by Government or NGOs. I believe that managing this disaster is beyond the capacity of any organization single handed; hence a lot more need for personal & group initiatives like FTF. Let the Effort Grow!
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      Fayaz Rahoojo said on Oct. 25, 2010 at 4:50 p.m.
      Dear Chang, Its a great effort on your part to bring to notice the severity of the devastation caused by the lattest flood in pakistan. Moreover, it an appeal to the elite of the USA in general and Texas in particular to come up with their helping hands and rescue this unprivileged segment of our society. last but not the least, its and all embracing proposal for the relief and rehabilitation of them in the form of COOPERATION IN EDUCATION
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      Sidrat Qureshi said on Oct. 25, 2010 at 2:12 p.m.
      Really gr8 thinking .....sir your blog is really based on fact most of the sindh & Baluchistan areas are not even reached by the government of Pakistan and I appreciate the work of all the people of Pakistan who came up and helped the idp's individually.. may ALLAH bless our home land ameen
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      Muhammad Akram said on Oct. 25, 2010 at 2:11 p.m.
      Mr Chang has done a good job. He has highlighted the facts about the people displaced by the recent floods in Pakistan. This is great human tragedy that Pakistan alone can not cope with. World community should come forward to help Pakistan in resettling the people worst affected by this disaster. There are two ways, the world can help Pakistan, rebuild the lives of the flood affectees. One is by directly providing financial help to people to rebuild their lives. Second, developed countries particularly US should offer scholarships to the students of flood affected areas to come and study in the US educational institutions. This will be like a programme initiated by teh US government for the students from tusnami affected countries. This will also help people to understand the phenomenon of flood and will enable them to deal with such disasters in an efficient way.
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      Hussain Kalwar said on Oct. 25, 2010 at 2:03 p.m.
      Good work Haq. It is need of the time to highlight the miseries of the flood affectees to international community. Flood has destroyed their houses, farms, and it has left nothing for livelihood of already poverty ridden rural farmers. They need support. We all must come forth to contribute in kind, cash, and in our capacity whereever we are, what ever can. Thanks.
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      khadim hussain magis said on Oct. 25, 2010 at 12:37 a.m.
      I really appreciate such tremendous effort by you respected to highlight the issue. There is need of assistance for flood affected vulnerable families of Pakistan. I also value the point which is brought in front of standard personalities of the USA country to encourage the youth for innovative skills and knowledge. There should be oppertunity for vulnerable students of the Sindh and Balochistan that they can be able to mitigate and preparedness of upcoming natural disasters. thanks for doing and effort for vulnerable people of Pakistan.
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      C L O S E R » Blog Archive » Closing the week 42 – Featuring the dying of the multicultural light said on Oct. 24, 2010 at 8:58 a.m.
      [...] Pakistan floods rival earthquakes, tsunamis in severity « Know Abdul Haque Chang is a Fulbright Scholar and graduate student in the Department of Anthropology. He’s working on the issue of governance of water resources management in Pakistan. His major focus is to bring an ethnographic perspective to the issue of waste, scarcity and abundance of water resources management according to different strata of society. [...]
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