Millions Flooding

Please select a featured image for your post

The torrential rain floods that took place on January 18th have devastated many lives that remain disrupted to this very day, more than two whole months later. 15 people were killed, 600 houses destroyed and hundreds were left homeless. In classic Egyptian fashion, talk about the floods persisted in the media, in living rooms and university halls for days on end. Millions of Egyptian pounds were raised to help victims of the floods, most severe in Aswan and Sinai, in a display of generosity and a spirit of solidarity that regretfully tends to appear only when such tragic disaster strikes.

It's become a well-established trend in Egyptian society now. Something of interest comes up, whether it is talk of Muhammad El Baradei becoming president or rumors of which celebrity being gay, and it becomes the hub of the people's existence until something more exciting comes along, and all is forgotten. You'd think it would be different when the incident involves the loss of human lives, but it's not. Everyone talked and talked and talked, and millions poured into Aswan and Sinai, their flood matching the rain, but no one cared to ask what was actually done with this money. Do we know how our fellow citizens over there are doing now?

According to engineering consultant Dr. Mamdouh Hamza, each new house built instead of those demolished was estimated to cost approximately 30,000 EGP. It doesn't take a mathematical genius to realize that it would definitely take less than 20 million EGP to build new houses instead of the damaged 600 if the 30,000 EGP estimate is correct. However, 20 million EGP is even less than the mere amount of money that was raised at an incredible speed over two episodes of an Egyptian TV talk show, namely Amr Adib's Al-Qahera Al-Yom. Makes you wonder … What about the rest of the money donated for the cause? What about all the other millions that drifted so generously from all parts of the country and the Arab region? What about Amr Diab and Tamer Hosni and the revenues from their fundraising concerts? That is in addition to the 25,000 EGP originally allocated by the government for each family affected by the floods (later raised to 80,000 per family). So, have millions of pounds been spent on blankets and food?

Ms. Huwaida Ali, who works for the "Life Sinai" program funded by the USAID in Sinai, says the situation – even though relatively stable – is still pretty messed up in the peninsula. The roads are still unpaved, causing a recurrent transportation problem. In Al-Arish, a decision was made by local authorities to build a new bridge over the valley stream which separates the city's West from its East, but Ms. Ali says no steps have been taken so far. Today, no new houses have yet been completed, and those who have been displaced or have lost their homes relocated with family or friends. She says they have seen no millions in Sinai, only donations in the form of food and home appliances.  When asked about the government's promised 25,000 EGP compensation for the families she said, "All I saw was people cashing checks of 1,000 LE at the Ministry of Soical Solidarity, 1,000 LE per family that is. Perhaps they can use that to buy some biscuits for their children." The city's Al Rawafea Dam – known to have been suffering a serious crack for the past 20 years – is said to have kept enormous amounts of water from flooding the city during the driving rain that hit in January. "Everyone was at their wit's end, terrified the dam would break down from the pressure. Imagine how much worse the damage could have been then", she says. "What the people really need now is a sense of security, and that is currently nonexistent."

While the damage in Aswan was relatively less severe, the villages of Abu El Reesh and Abu Sweira have suffered irrevocable losses due to the floods. Shazly Hussein, a native from Aswan who lives in Cairo but whose family were among those affected by the floods, says that the amount of money donated according to what he hears on TV does not go in parallel with what his family tells him about their conditions now. He says that the people in his village did in fact get help, but that it was nowhere near sufficient. According to Shazly, no tangible results can yet be spotted. “Why would people in Aswan need blankets? It’s hot almost all year long. They need shelter; they need a roof over their heads to protect them from the burning sun”, he says, referring to the kind of aid that has so far reached the people of his hometown.

And what we need is some integrity. What we need is real concern in the face of such tragedy. What we need is news of those suffering humans that we’ve known nothing of ever since January. What we need is a press that treats those victims as more than a tool to sell more papers; as Egyptians who to this day remain in dire need. What we need is a government brave enough to acknowledge the chaos that still exists in the areas hit by the floods, even if all the blame will be directed at it for its incapability in dealing with the crisis. What we need is some transparency, not just an announcement that some businessman has kindly donated half his money to help. What we need is results, and a media that cares to convey them.

I do not underestimate the power of charity, or the value of all the money spent in good cause for those victims. But don’t we have the right to know where this money goes? How many pounds are lost on the way, before it reaches those who are in desperate need for it? Don’t we deserve to see the manifestation of such generosity? If the purpose of all those charity campaigns was to alleviate the suffering, how come it’s still so abundant, then? Now an answer to this question is another thing we really need.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.