“I lost my unborn child while fetching water from the far off well. I was very sad and prayed that water should be available at our doorstep. It is as if my prayers were answered when ActionAid came to our village and installed hand pumps.
The best part is they asked the women to identify the most suitable place for their installation. This is fair because women have to fetch water, even if they are unwell, pregnant or extremely exhausted from working all day.
This is a story of 28 years old Taj Bibi , who lives in Haji Arbab Dall Juna, a small village of district Thatta, Sindh. She has a 2 years old daughter and her husband Abdul Sattar is a farm laborer.
Ever since the floods came, the well water has become muddy and bitter to taste. It also gives us stomachache. Now we have clean drinking water available, ActionAid's hand pumps are a blessing; Taj Bibi says pointing at a newly installed hand pump. As she spoke, a group of women and girls arrived at the pump and started filling their pans and pots with clean water. The sound of their chitchat and laughter expressed their happiness.
ActionAid started emergency response in Thatta in 2010 as the flood-displaced people were returning to their ravished villages. The water had largely receded but there were signs of destruction everywhere. ActionAid provided the poor and vulnerable people with relief items, including food packages, linen, soaps and household items. In addition, food, livelihood and shelter support has also been provided to the most vulnerable households especially women-headed families.
In the rehabilitation phase of our emergency response, and as part of the long-term programmatic work, we are building people's capacities to understand, claim and secure their human rights. Disaster risk education and preparedness is an important component of our awareness work. The shelters and other structures such as hand pumps are sturdy and built in such a way that they can withstand heavy rains and floods.
Taj Bibi and many women like her are happy with ActionAid's work and hope it will help improve their quality of life. 'I am happy that no more babies have to die like mine did. ActionAid's hand pumps will save lives.”
One year on from the flood that devastated Pakistan, we're working with communities to rebuild after the disaster.
In the first year of response we’ve reached over 234,000 people. We’ve put the most vulnerable people – particularly women – at the centre of our work.
In the immediate aftermath of the floods we worked with partner organizations and community members to distribute food packages, plastic sheets for shelter, kitchen utensils and clothing, as well as fodder for livestock.
In the first five months alone ActionAid reached over 19,000 of the most vulnerable households, including nearly 700 people with disabilities as well as 6,200 ActionAid sponsored children and their families.
Cash-for-work programs – in which people are paid to work on agriculture projects, clear away flood debris or rebuilding damaged houses and public buildings - have helped thousands of families, start to earn an income once again.
Through other livelihoods programs we’ve provided women with goats and chickens, and supported them to open small businesses – helping to bring back a sense of self-worth and economic independence that was lost with the floods.
"I lost my cattle and grains in the floods and was left with no source of income. With ActionAid’s help I managed to set up a shop. At first, people said I wouldn’t be able to do it. But I worked with honesty and dedication. Soon business picked up and now I make enough to live comfortably. I feel I have set an example for other women." Jindan Mai, South Punjab
We also set up centers where women and children can gather in a safe environment to share their experiences of the floods – a crucial step in their emotional recovery. The centers also provided informal education for children not able to get to school, and training on healthcare, good hygiene practices, women’s rights and protection, to help keep people safe in the camps.
Helping ensure people are less vulnerable to future disasters is a core part of our ongoing work. In eight areas we’ve supported village committees to develop flooding contingency plans in collaboration with government departments.
Many thanks to our donors and supporters, who had helped ActionAid to reach more than 220,952 people in Pakistan since August 2010.
A story to share
82 years old Amir Bibi lives in Basti Chah Pahroi Wala, in South Punjab. She lives with three children two of whom are mentally challenged. None of her children has been to school due to poverty. Her 30 years old son Bilal is a daily wage earner whose meager income is hardly enough for the family to make both ends meet. He is the sole earner for a family of four and manages to earn less than a dollar a day.
The floods hit her village hard, washing away everything. “We could hardly save our lives. My son carried me through the water. Community people helped my ill children to get through the water.” She tells in a weak voice.
The family lived with their relatives for two weeks and when the water receded they returned to their village. “My son thought people would be returning and he might get some laboring job here. He was right in a way, people were returning, but they did not have any money to pay for laboring job. We had lost our house; there was no roof to sleep under.”
ActionAid reached the poor flood affected people with immediate support including food, plastic sheets for temporary shelter and household items. In Kot Adu tehsil of district Muzaffargarh, where floods had caused massive devastation, we provided cooked food and essential medical acre to 5500 families, and food and non food relief items to over 2000 households. However as people started to return to their homes, their main need was that of permanent shelter. With the financial support of I-CAP, ActionAid, through its local partner Hirrak Development Center provided cash and material support to 350 poorest households so that they could rebuild their homes.
Amir Bibi’s family was also selected for this much needed support. With the support of ActionAid, ICAP and Hirrak, Amir Bibi’s son and other community members constructed a one room house for the family.
Amir Bibi was happy that she had a place to live in and protect herself and her family from the harsh winters. “Look, this room is made of bricks and cement. Earlier my house was made of mud that is why floods washed it away. This one is really strong and good enough to keep us warm in this weather.” She shares happily.
As the response progressed, ActionAid moved to support people in rebuilding their lives. In Swat and Shangla, we supported 1,000 families with cash for work activities on agriculture and land rehabilitation. In Punjab, the focus of cash for work activities was on shelter. 750 households were supported to reconstruct houses, cash and material support was provided. In Sibi and Kashmore, 900 and 600 families respectively were supported to rebuild shelter/house. In Shahdadkot, we supported 500 families with cash for work for shelter reconstruction.
ActionAid Pakistan also established 9 women and child friendly canters in Sibi (Balochistan) and Kashmore (Sindh) where communities were engaged in informal sharing, education and awareness on protection and women’s rights issues. Street theatres were used, informal education for children was provided and recreational activities were organised such as drawing competitions, sports etc. In addition, capacity building sessions on protection issues were organised for staff and partners so that they could raise awareness of these issues amongst communities. Almost 450 women and 550 children directly benefitted from these centers.