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Pakistan Floods Two Years On

Source: HelpAge International - UK - Tue, 20 Nov 2012 14:09 GMT
Author: HelpAge International
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Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Two years on from the Pakistan floods that affected 20 million people, of which at least three million were older people, HelpAge and partners are still supporting older people in a number of ways. These include providing healthcare and disaster risk management training, eye care services as well as funds to help older people earn a living.

You can find out more about HelpAge International's work with older people around the world by visiting our website www.helpage.org

© Lucy Blown/ HelpAge International 2011

The floods have destroyed Jaam’s (60) home, crops and livestock. Out of his 6 livestock, only 2 are still alive

Jaam informed us of his health problems- he has been vomiting and has scabies but the health facilities are too far away to see a doctor about it.

“The only assistance I have received so far is from HelpAge. We have received no other support”

© HelpAge International 2011

HelpAge established an older peoples association (OPA) in five villages outside Jacobabad city.Allipul is one village. Through the OPA, HelpAge distributed cash grants to the older people in the village, and distributed relief items such as hygiene kits and mobility aids. Most of the people living in this village are landless haree (peasants). They work on the land around the village which belongs to large-scale landowners. Most of the land was destroyed by the flood and very little is currently cultivatable. Most of the villagers believe it will take 1 to 2 years for the land to recover enough for them to re-plant. Each household lost all its livestock. Most extended families had several cows, valued at 60,000 rupees each (£440) so this was a huge financial loss to the village. In the meantime they must find alternative sources of income. Unlike other provinces in Pakistan, in parts of Sindh women are engaged in manual labour including working in the fields and older women continue to work in the fields as long as their health continues.

© Zeeshan Alvi/ HelpAge International 2011

Taken by HelpAge Pakistan staff during need assessment/ aid distributions at different relief camps, flood affected villages and other various locations inside Badin district, Sindh, Pakistan.

© Tayyaba Khan/ HelpAge International 2010

Mulak Aman, is 71 years old. Before the floods he lived with his son, daughter in law and their six children near Kabul River in Nowshera Kalan.

“I do not recall a flood so catastrophic in my whole life. It badly affected the mill I worked at as a watchman and it has closed down. Our house was also totally destroyed by the flood and now we are left with nothing. It is not easy to start everything from the beginning. We just sit here waiting for aid as we currently have no other way to feed our family.

We received no prior warning about the flood. By the time we evacuated, we were up to our waists in water and needed to get our children safely out of the area. We left everything behind and walked for miles to reach a safer place. We’re now living in a tent at the Polytechnic Institute, Nowshera Kalan.

My health is deteriorating day by day because of the poor living conditions in the tents. The temperature of the tents is extremely hot in the day time and it gets cold at night. I’ve caught fever and have been shivering badly at night and have been pleading for a blanket. Nights in the tent are getting tougher and tougher and I feel too old to cope with these conditions.”

© Zeeshan Alvi/ HelpAge International 2011

On 9 August, three days of heavy monsoon rains caused flash floods throughout Sindh and Punjab provinces, affecting 1 million people.
According to PDMA’s latest reports, number of people displaced is over 96,000 in 510 camps in Badin, Mirpur Khas, Tharparker, Thatta and Tando Mohammad Khan districts. HelpAge International is helping 1,000 older people and their families affected by this month's flooding in Pakistan. We are distributing 1,000 food and hygiene kits and portable drinking water to vulnerable older people and their families in Badin district in Sindh province.

HelpAge is working in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces to ensure that older people's needs are met by the humanitarian response:

• Our specialist health workers are working with Merlin's mobile medical team in Nowshera giving free consultations, counselling, health education and medication to older people.

• With our partners, we have worked in 17 health centres to provide care for more than 23,400 people, with a special focus on older people's needs.

© Lucy Blown/ HelpAge International 2011

Malkani Sharif village, Badin

This village of 15,000 people is still cut off from the main road by flood waters, which is where the majority of the little assistance so far, has been distributed. Flood water can be seen in all directions as far as the eye can see. Many areas are under 4 feet of stagnant flood water which is combined with sewage and contains many dead animals. Approximately 57,000 animals died as a result of the floods.

The majority of the village shops are closed as they are surrounded by water and not accessible; the village cricket pitch is under 4 ft of water and the surrounding agricultural land, which many of the local villagers farmed and relied on for their livelihood- is flooded. We were told that the nearest clean water supply is 25km away. The villagers are drinking the flood water which is causing many health problems such as acute diarrhoea. HelpAge International is planning to carry out distributions here in the village next week based on the needs of households that include vulnerable older people.

Through HelpAge support Zenul got 15,000 via the OPA and spent it on this calf. She gets milk from it, some of which she keeps for herself and the rest she can sell for 40 rupees (30p) per litre. Hpefully it’ll also have calves which Zenul will sell.

"I’m living in a tent because my house is unstable because of the floods and actually we felt an earthquake last week. Normally the mud we coat the house with protects the house- its very strong against the extreme heat and the cold in winter. But it crumbled in the floods. I’m not sure how I’ll rebuild the house. If we had money we’d buy cement. Mud is free but cement is expensive. I will have to wait for the calf to grow!"

© Zeeshan Alvi/HelpAge International 2011

Noor Alam Khan, Nowshera, is a motor cycle mechanic who lost his business, house and other belongings in 2010 floods. Noor Alam Khan has now received support from the HelpAge OPA. At first, he received winterization kit, which helped him face the immediate risk of health in winters and now Rs.15000/- cash assistance from HAI is going to let him reconstruct his house and also to re-establish his business.

© Zeeshan Alvi/HelpAge International 2011

Sakeena Bibi, 55, Nowshera

"Before the flood I was living, quite happily, with my husband, 3 sons and 4 daughters. My husband is 64 years old with multiple health problems, and is unable to work since last 12 years. My sons and 2 daughters go to school, and the other 2 daughters remain home to help me with housework."

"We had 2 sewing machines and 2 buffaloes which, though, could not earn them a large amount but were still able to enough to live a decent life."

“The Flood changed our life. We lost our buffaloes and the sewing machines, as well. Along with other damages to our house".

"Our situation came under control only after the intervention of several agencies including HelpAge who, especially, helped us in getting our livelihood back."

"Help Age provided me Rs.15000/- net cash. I spent this amount on purchasing 3 new sewing machines and the remaining amount fulfilled some other household needs."

© HelpAge International 2010

Our specialist health workers are working with Merlin's mobile medical team in Nowshera giving free consultations, counselling, health education and medication to older people. With our partners, we have worked in 17 health centres to provide care for more than 23,400 people, with a special focus on older people's needs. One of the interventions that we have consistently made in emergencies affecting older people is the provision of mobility aids - especially crutches and wheelchairs. Isolation is such an issue for many older people that anything that enables them to be more active and social is a real benefit.

© Zeeshan Alvi/HelpAge International 2011

Gula Jan, 82, Nowshera

"Because of the floods, I lost my cow and 2 buffaloes. They were my sources of income. The situation had gone out of control, if Help Age would not come to rescue us”.

"I consider it a blessing of Allah that HelpAge while doing its assessment surveys in my village, identified me, among several others, as a potential beneficiary of Rs.15000/- cash assistance. Older people are usually the most neglected segments in our society, especially in disasters."

"I purchased a cow with this money, which is now getting healthier and healthier. And my grandsons now help me look after it."

© HelpAge International/2010

Our specialist health workers are working with Merlin's mobile medical team in Nowshera giving free consultations, counselling, health education and medication to older people. With our partners, we have worked in 17 health centres to provide care for more than 23,400 people, with a special focus on older people's needs.

© Nafeh Bin Naeem/ HelpAge International 2010

Abdul wahid lives in Rais Morio Buriro. He earned once in six months in the form of grains by guarding his landlord’s farm lands. However, he lost the job two years ago when he had an asthma attack while working in the fields during harvest season.

“When the floods came I was left behind alone in the village because I was confident the flood water will not rise fast.I lived for four days without food while drinking the contaminated flood water and saw my three buffaloes floating dead in the water. After four days a helicopter came to rescue him, I was unconscious and in a great deal of pain and discomfort. I was admitted to hospital for one week".

“The Old Peoples Association in our village have improved the economic livelihood of my family because we are the only family in the village with five patients that cannot even move from their beds without the support of other people, OPA’s have identified me for unconditional cash grant. HelpAge International has provided relief to me and my family by supporting us in this time".

HelpAge International also provided us a commode, mosquito nets and anti-bacterial lotion. With stagnant flood water in the fields, malaria and other diseases are wide-spread. The commode has made me and my sons life easier because we no longer have to wait for someone to take us to the washroom. OPA members regularly visit our family and support us when my sons go for regular checkups to the hospital. My wife Durnaz Khatoon is an executive member of the association. I encourage her to participate in the meetings, which is bringing the women villagers closer. They now think collectively on issues related to older people in the village."

© Nafeh Bin Naeem/ HelpAge International 2010

Gawar Khatoon has been a farmer all her life but due to the floods in August, all her crops were destroyed. The land which they used to cultivate and make their living from is now a pond of water. She is worried about her son because he is jobless. She is also worried about the education of her grand children because the school building was destroyed due to rains. The buffaloes which were the source of their income were also lost.

“The OPA in our village have encouraged and motivated the older people to help each other, I now expect faster recovery because the OPA members come daily to visit me and they also take care of my grandchildren. They are my family now. We all belong to Phore tribe. After the formation of OPA’s the male tribe members encourage us to participate in developing solutions to the problems of the villagers. OPA formationa have routed out the traditional ill practice of neglecting women in decision-making. We are glad that HelpAge International brought us closer as a society and we feel more secure and active now”.

“I am optimistic about the four OPA’s that HelpAge International have setup in Shikarpur because we will be able to raise our voices through OPA’s to the Social Welfare Ministry and Health Ministry for a local clinic and hospital”.

© HelpAge International 2010

Our specialist health workers are working with Merlin's mobile medical team in Nowshera giving free consultations, counselling, health education and medication to older people. With our partners, we have worked in 17 health centres to provide care for more than 23,400 people, with a special focus on older people's needs. One of the interventions that we have consistently made in emergencies affecting older people is the provision of mobility aids - especially crutches and wheelchairs. Isolation is such an issue for many older people that anything that enables them to be more active and social is a real benefit.

© Rosaleen Cunningham/ HelpAge International 2011

Abdullah, 65
Sindh province, Jacobabad district

I bought this cart with the money I got from HelpAge. And I also leased out this donkey for 5,000 rupees (£36) on credit. He’s a small donkey but that why he was only 5,000 rupees! With the donkey and cart I can pay it back. My sons and I will use it for a “transportation” business, like as a taxi, or for transporting goods for people. I’m very grateful for this.

© Rosaleen Cunningham/ HelpAge International 2011

We were told when the floods were coming but were reassured “it’ll never reach us”. But it did. We escaped and took all our essentials and travelled to Karachi with my father, who is very elderly, and my brother, and stayed with my other son who is an apprentice carpenter. We stayed there three months but when we got back we were shocked to see the flood water still here. It’s still here in patches. There wasn’t too much damage to my house, only minor but I can’t afford to repair it. We weren’t here when the government came to do the first assessments so that means we have missed out on the government “token money” (25,000 rupees compensation given to all people affected by the floods)

I was a tenant farmer, and worked for the landlord in this land around here. We also had livestock which we lost in the flood. I stopped working in the fields some time ago because I have a chronic stomach problem, so I stay and look after the children and I depend on my sewing for an income, which is physically easier.

My sewing machine was lost in the floods so I borrowed this one from a friend. I do the sewing of rilli (traditional patchwork quilts) and my daughters do embroidery. This is our only income now so we work all day at it. We do about ten to twelve hours a a day on it, until its dark. The embroidery we sell on to a broker (middle man). The middle man pays us 55 rupees (40p) for one piece. It takes 4 to 5 days to make this one piece. The broker probably sells it on for 500 rupees. I get 250 rupees (£2) for the rilli and I can do two a week. We depend on this person, we can’t do anything about his price!

I recieved the cash grant of 10,000 rupees (£73) from HelpAge. It was “unconditional” so I could spent it on anything – I spent it on the necessities – rice flour, vegetables, and medicine for my condition. My medicine costs 1,300 rupee (£9.50) for 8 days. If I don’t take the medicine I am in severe pain. And if I’m I pain I can’t work. Most of the time I need to borrow money for the medicine. So the money from HelpAge for medicine helped me keep working.
The HelpAge grant, winter kits and hygiene kits are all we got. Without this, we would have had so little.

© Rosaleen Cunningham/ HelpAge International 2011

Another picture of Sarah.




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