11 years old Zahida, ActionAid’s sponsored child is amongst thousands of children whose villages and towns were inundated by the 2010 floods. They lost their homes and schools, and their families had to flee their native tons to take shelter in nearby safer places.
Life in the relief camps and temporary plastic shelters was hard with scarce food, and a lack of clean drinking water and essential medical care.
Shahadad Kot district of Sindh is one the places that saw massive destruction and damage to infrastructure.
When water reached Zahida’s village Qubo Saeed Khan, her older brother, a daily wage worker, quickly packed some belongings. He younger brother carried their bed ridden ailing mother and the whole family left on foot towards a nearby village.
"People were shouting and screaming. My mother asked my brother to leave her behind as she thought carrying her would slow us down. This was the most traumatic moment of my life."
Wading through water, it took them almost 2 hours to finally reach their uncle’s house, where they stayed for over a month.
"My uncle treated us with kindness but his one room house was too small to accommodate all of us. My mother used to cough all night and this worried me. We had no money to buy medicines and government dispensaries were all closed."
Soon ActionAid reached them with food support, clean drinking water and household items. The family also received plastic sheets which they used to convert the veranda into an additional room. Food support and other relief items also lightened financial burden on Zahida’s Uncle.
ActionAid’s local partner NGOs Development Society also set up free medical camp for flood survivors.
"We got medicine for my mother’s cough and fever and which made her feel better. We also received tooth paste and soaps and the doctor told us to wash our hands regularly to avoid diseases."
As the water receded and Zahida’s family returned to their village, ActionAid supported them in rebuilding their damaged house. As reconstruction work started in the village with government and humanitarian community’s support, Zahida’s brother found wage work which helped the family to afford basic necessities.
In the meanwhile, to support village women and girls to overcome the traumatic experience of flood devastation, and to provide educational and recreational activities to children, ActionAid established ‘women and child friendly spaces’ in the Zahida’s village. She immediately became a member.
"At the WCFS, I have received notebooks, pencils, and crayons. My teacher is very kind. She talks to us about our problems and gives us good advice. She embroiders very well and I have asked her to teach me the skill too."
"I enjoy coming here. I have many friends; we tell jokes, play with dolls and read books. I am very happy to be back home."
“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.