“In some areas people stranded in flood waters are still being rescued by boats to safer places,” a spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Jens Laerke, told a news briefing in Geneva. “The immediate needs are on food, emergency shelter, health water and sanitation and hygiene services.”In addition, the UN World Food Programme (WFP), which has built up its emergency response capacity with all the necessary logistical and communications support, said today it still needs contributions from international donors, with a total goal of $29 million – including $6.5 million for milling, fortifying, transporting and distributing wheat donated by the governments of Balochistan and Sindh, two of the provinces most affected.For the third consecutive year, severe monsoon flooding has delivered a crippling blow to millions of people who were already suffering from high food prices, malnutrition and poverty, according to WFP. In the five worst-affected districts of Sindh and Balochistan, between 1.2 million and 1.3 million people are estimated to be in need of food assistance.“Once again, there have been heavy losses of livestock, food stocks and seeds,” the food relief agency said in a media update. “With huge areas of land still under up to 2.5 metres of water, the prospects for planting the upcoming Rabi crop (sown in winter) look remote in the affected areas. It will be several months before families are able to resume their normal lives and livelihoods.”It added, “In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of people are living in temporary camps or simply under tarpaulins on the roadside, where they can do little but wait for the waters to subside.”At the request of Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority, WFP has distributed a one-month ration to some 140,000 people in Sindh and Balochistan and preparations are under way to provide a one-month ration for 1.2 million people, followed by two one-month rations for 700,000 of the most severely food insecure. The WFP food basket consists of dietary staples of fortified wheat flour, pulses, vegetable oil and iodized salt, as well as high energy biscuits.One flood victim, Adam Khan, from Naseerabad district in Balochistan, told WFP that he and his family were only just beginning to recover from the previous floods when this year’s disaster hit. He lost all his livestock: goats, a buffalo and a donkey. Now, he says, he is back to zero:“We have lost our crops and seeds for the next season,” he said. “The loans we took out for the next crop are gone for nothing. We need these loans to be written off and for us to be provided with free seeds and fertilizers. Everything is gone. We have been left out in the open on the roadside. Please, for the sake of God, help us in Naseerabad!”A major concern of WFP is that while fewer districts were affected by flooding this year than in 2011, those that were affected were hit in a particularly dramatic fashion. The agency noted the fact that one month after the rains, the waters are still so deep and covering such a large area indicates that the suffering of the flood victims is likely to continue for many weeks to come.
However, the credit market is now remarkably different and SMMT believes that the current voluntary termination provisions are no longer necessary and play no effective role in consumer protection law. The voluntary termination provisions are taken from an old piece of legislation which was set up to protect the consumer from unfair contract terms. The Consumer Credit Act 1974 permits a customer who has purchased goods on hire purchase or conditional sale agreements to hand back the goods to the finance company, without further liability, providing that 50 per cent of the total amount has been paid. Responding to a DTI consultation on voluntary terminations of hire purchase and conditional sale agreements, SMMT has called for a level playing field for all forms of lending and a system which offers more protection for vulnerable consumers. SMMT strongly recommends an end to voluntary termination provisions, calling the credit rules outdated and open to abuse. A major review of consumer credit legislation, undertaken by DTI, will change the framework within which voluntary terminations operate and provide more explicit and effective consumer protection. These measures include greater transparency in advertising, agreements and in the provision of information, as well as to make early settlements fairer. It also stipulates a reform in the licensing regime and enforcement powers of the OFT and an improvement in consumer redress by introducing an alternative dispute resolution mechanism. In addition, as the number of voluntary terminations increase, the residual values of all vehicles decreases, reducing vehicle equity for all owners. The abuse of the current voluntary termination costs the industry around £80 million which has subsequently increased the cost of providing this type of finance to the consumer. In response to the consultation, Christopher Macgowan, chief executive of SMMT said, ‘ The do nothing option in the DTI’s consultation is not feasible in a modern, fair and efficient credit market. To increase the remaining recovery amount to 75 per cent is merely replacing one set of arbitrary values with another. The removal of voluntary termination provisions is the only solution with viable benefits to the consumer and the industry.’ Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) read more