EXPERT opinion around the world is unanimously of the view that the scale of catastrophe the current floods have wrought in Pakistan is bigger than the devastations caused either by the tsunami of 2004 or the earthquake that struck northern parts of Pakistan in 2005, though the death toll has, mercifully, been relatively far less significant. While the turbulent waves of the tsunami carried away as many as 125,000 persons with them and the earthquake killed nearly 100,000, the floods have so far resulted in the deaths of more than 1600 persons, thanks largely to the peoples own precaution of abandoning the danger zones, the armed forces helicopters and ground help and the media warnings of the coming disaster. However, with a large number of people marooned and even larger number putting up at somewhat safer, but still makeshift encampments at the mercy of nature, the total tally of the flood-affected comes to 14 million. The government and all those who are lending a helping hand, must be greatly concerned at the likely outbreak of epidemics resulting from long exposure to inclement weather, poor sanitation and hunger or unhealthy diet and water. A chilling warning has come from the UN that 3.5 million children are at risk from water-borne diseases; already, 23 of them have died in relief camps as a result of gastroenteritis. But that does not mean that the adults are out of the woods. The already sick, of all ages, are seeing their illnesses worsening and more are likely to fall sick of different diseases. There is an urgent need of all types of assistance, in money and kind, even of counselling. Leaving aside bureaucrats and official bodies, who have little choice but to contribute to government established funds, most citizens and foreign donors are looking for safe hands to deliver their contributions to. The pity is that so far the independent commission the Gilani-Nawaz meeting of last Saturday decided to set up has not yet come into being to take charge of handling donations for flood relief. The delay is ominous in that it is suggestive of political manoeuvrings about the composition of the body. It needs to be stressed again and again that the commission must consist of persons of impeccable character and honesty. The sooner it is established the better for the affected persons; for, doubtless, aid would start pouring in, as the image deficit a UN spokeswoman has talked about would improve. This hour of crisis is a clarion call for looking back at the neglect that water management has suffered due to politicking. A team of experts should be assembled to see that large dams, like Kalabagh and Munda, are urgently built and other measures, strict ban on logging, large-scale tree plantation in the catchment areas, strengthening of river embankments and desilting of river beds to allow the passage of larger quantities of water at the barrages, are undertaken. The country might be up for recurrent floods every year because of the unpredictability caused by global warming. Preventive measures ought to be in place.