The glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) that occurred in 2005, 2015, 2022 and most recently in 2023 created lots of challenges for the people of village Brep. These flood-distressed residents include those directly affected by the GLOFs and those residing in high-risk areas.
The beautiful village of Brep located in tehsil Mastuj of Upper Chitral with an estimated 1,200 plus households, is at the high risk of being washed out due to GLOFs and flash floods in its two Nullahs – Chihkahn and Darkhot.
Attaleghandur, nestled amidst the stunning geography of the region, boasts a rich history dating back to several decades. With its unique location and picturesque landscapes, Attaleghandur had been home to a vibrant community. In 2005, the locality comprised over 50 plus households, which declined to 30 in 2015, and further decreased to 11 by 2022 as many residents migrated to different areas such as Khotaan Lasht while other relocated on to a cliff locally known as Abad Kardu Tihng.
The GLOFs that ravaged the village in 2005, 2015, 2022 and 2023 brought immense devastation and loss. These catastrophic events led to the destruction of numerous homes, infrastructure and killed domestic cattle. The glacial lakes present in the main Nullah pose a significant risk, resulting in severe damages during each GLOF occurrence. It is crucial to note that the magnitude of the destruction escalated with each subsequent event, leaving the community in a state of perpetual vulnerability. It is crucial to understand the never ending threat and fear of being homeless are still engraved among the residents of Attaleghandur and surroundings.
Regrettably, the community has not received equitable treatment and support during the critical phases of rescue, relief, and rehabilitation from champions of human assistance NGOs and other relevant departments of the provincial government& federal government. The community has been left to endure the hardships under the open sky, lacking even the most basic shelter facilities.
This situation has led to the violation of the privacy and sanctity of families, with Pardah being exposed and the dignity of respectable households compromised. It is promising to provide basic human needs such as toilets for the women and girls, emergency medical assistance, rescue and relief. Being homeless doesn’t only challenge the community emotionally but they also face issues in availing basic life necessities such as accessibility to fresh water, healthy food, and shelter as the flooding continues over the period of a month & more on some events.
Furthermore, even those houses that have not suffered direct damages during the GLOFs are now at risk and face immense suffering. The constant threat looming over their homes forces these families to abandon their dwellings and seek refuge elsewhere. The emotional and financial burden placed upon them is overwhelming, as they are compelled to leave behind their cherished memories and the stability of their lives.
The displaced community needs to stay awake and shift their basic household items to safer place and need to stay under open sky for many days. Our senior citizens go through the same trauma every time. They suffer a lot by spending sleepless nights and hot days under the open sky. We as local residents lack resources to build another house with the same facilities. It is the matter of fact that we cannot afford anything like this financially.
Dummy Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) plays no role during the first two Rs (Rescue & Relief) of the disaster although these teams work on voluntary model but heavy amount of funds are spent behind their trainings and capacity building, it is also interesting to note that despite claiming enormous amount of capability they had only 3 tents out of which 1 was incomplete at a time when 50 plus households got displaced in Brep during the flooding of 2022.
Flood prone areas in Brep may be classified into three zones and can be named as Red, Yellow, and Green Zones. If a house falls within the Red Zone, the owner may possess lands in the Green Zone. Hence a shelter house may be allotted to them but NGOs & PDMA/NDMA have a very rigid criteria that when a house is completely damaged or washed away then they will be compensated for rehabilitation which is totally irrational, houses on higher risk must be provided with shelter homes so they can at least safe their important assets. These shelters will not only provide immediate relief to the affected families but also mitigate the risks associated with future GLOFs.
The aforementioned problems need immediate solutions: building shelter houses. I request immediate attention and action in approving the establishment of shelter houses for communities who are at high risk. Failure to address this pressing issue would leave these communities with no choice but to explore alternative channels to seek justice. Such actions may adversely affect the image and reputation of the concerned NGOs and disaster management authorities of the state which must be avoid.