Sunday, June 19, 2016

Aftermath of the Floods – Entitlement Culture and Unreasonable Demands

Now that the media has left, the politicians resting on their reflected glory from newsclippings of their immediate generosity, floods have subsided, and real situation can come to pass.

It is in this environment that I have been about some of the affected places, trying to determine need, but find the selection process, fraught with difficulty.

The means by which each household was affected was truly different, and their loss too different, so hardly affected and badly affected have all been lumped into one due to inability of the state representative on site, the Grama Niladari (GN) to make that distinction due to local pressure. Sometimes the words of the households are suspect, as the crack in the wall may have had nothing to do with the flood but a pre-existing condition.

Apart from this needs assessment, the flood relief received by each household has also varied, depending on the mode by which they obtained assistance, and most often, the GN has no idea, as he has been bypassed in this process. This makes determination of the needs difficult, and any decision of the GN open to criticism from one set or another.

We met the GN from 5 different areas, and asked them to provide lists of the 15 most affected/ needing assistance households to determine what of the items we were asked to provide, were actually required by that respective household. We determined that simply by going to the house and determining on observation what was needed, as we did not have any better means. We were told that we were the only people who in fact went to the home!

It is possible that the selection of the homes, could be suspect, as we only went into homes which were on the GN list. It is however NOT ours to question, as we cannot be responsible for a personal foible of the state’s representative on site. Further we observed if the homes we visited had other desperate needs that we could note for future action.

What we found was that the extent of loss varied enormously, as the people’s economic condition varied too. Ironically in one wooden shack which was completely covered and all belongings were lost, all three occupants, adults were gainfully employed, and were able to replace their belongings. The wooden shack however was built illegally in an area that always floods, because the people who had come from elsewhere, where unable to find accommodation locally and opted for this temporary dwelling. They simply want a place to live, but are unable to find, a home, for reasonable rent, though there are boarding rooms that they could rent, but landlords prefer to let to only garment girls!  

I understand that in this DS division, there are 4,500+ flood affected homes, which are due to receive Rs10K each from the state. In my opinion, half had hardly any water come into the house, but were included in the lists, by request of homeowners. If the other half got Rs20K instead the truly affected could have been better served. It takes a homeowner to think of his need in relation to his more affected neighbor, and we are still a mee mee mee society, not one where we put our neighbor's needs above ours.

I dread to think of the fights ahead, when people will have to moved out, and other forms of relief is distributed. 

to be continued

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