In order to help poor people especially women to overcome the trauma and devastation of the 2010 floods, ActionAid provided immediate relief such as food rations, shelter materials, and hygiene kits to thousands of poor and vulnerable families, and cash support to women headed households to rebuild their homes, grow food (kitchen gardens), and set up small shops and businesses (livelihood). ActionAid’s village schools provided an opportunity to many children to resume their education which also helped in their emotional healing.
Most important, we supported women to understand their rights in the post emergency situation and demand access to government’s compensation program (Watan cards). In Kot Adu (South Punjab), women groups that had been formed with the support of ActionAid as part of long term work, were supported to launch an advocacy campaign to claim their right to equal compensation.
Members of Tareemat Sanjh (community women’s groups) organized rallies, press conferences and sit-ins with the support and participation of Haali Sanjh (community men’s group), local civil society activists, and other flood affected people.
"We were very active in Tareemat Sanjh groups even before the floods came. We used to meet regularly and discuss our problems. After the floods we saw an opportunity to reorganize and lobby the local government to ensure equal and timely compensation for flood hit women" tells 32 years old Naseem Bibi from village Basti Langah, an active member of Tareemat Sanjh.
With the legal support provided by ActionAid’s local partner Hirrak development Centre, women activists from Tareemat Sanjh were able to file a writ petition in the High Court, which was followed by a series of public demonstrations and press conferences. As a result of social and legal action, the court gave a verdict in community’s favour and hundreds of households, including women headed families were included in the government’s compensation program.
"This is a big achievement for us. How long can we depend on relief items being distributed by NGOs? We want to be included in the government’s beneficiary list so that we are eligible for all future compensation programs and benefits. We want long term solution to the problem. This is our right". Says Naseem.
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