Pakistan, Asia

PAK03 - Pakistan Flood Relief: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: September 13, 2012

Update from BHW Field Director


We travelled from Islamabad to Lahore on Tuesday the 14th August. It was Pakistan Independence Day so it was a little quieter on the roads than usual. It was also Ramadan so there was not much food available, although travellers are allowed to eat in Ramadan. It was a pleasant trip and certainly easier than trying to fly between the two cities. 

While in Lahore we spent some time talking with Edward Qasar about the relief effort following the severe flooding in Pakistan in 2010. 


Recent Events

New houses

We ascertained that the last amount sent for house rebuilding was $US27,450 sent on the 11th August 2011. With this money they built 21 new houses and repaired 4 more. The houses were 12” x 14” = 168ft2.

These houses were built in Kotri city, Sindh Province, about 14 hours by public transport. There is a mixture of religious backgrounds in the area. The worst affected were Hindus and they received the least amount of help. Some Christians received aid from Catholic aid agencies but very little international aid went to the non Moslem people. 

Edward and pastor Manzoor went down in August and then Edward went down again in November with Sobil and Shazaad. Sobil and Shazaad went to oversee the building but Shazaad’s wife became very ill and he had to return. Sobil was there for 50 days to see the building complete. He came back on the 19th of December.  

It was a dangerous place to do the work. They are a difficult, rural people and do not think like urban people. There are many local, tribal conflicts and disputes that outsiders do not understand. However they are very hospitable to strangers so it’s very difficult to read the situation. 

They had to be very careful who they built for. Many people got new houses and immediately sold them. So they had to select very carefully and find long term residents in communities who had a tie to the land. People were very happy to get houses and were very thankful to Western donors. 


Personal Stories

One family Sobil worked with were victims of the flooding, they were fishermen who lived on the Gohts, wide steps on the sides of the river. They had an uncle who owned a large “charitable” organisation. He sent out some boats during the flooding and charged people to use the boats or be rescued. When the relatives approached him for assistance he refused to help them. He had been given a lot of money from the government and he kept it all.

Many women in rural areas were washed away downstream in many rivers. If they did not die they would find themselves in strange villages many kilometres from home. Many of them could not read and many did not even know where they lived. No one had ever seen them outside of their houses because of their clothing. So, still now, many months after the event there are women living in strange villages and nobody knows who they are or where they come from. 


Lessons Learned

i. They approached the people who were most discriminated against and with the fewest resources. It was difficult to discern the most deserving and the most affected. 

ii. The process they developed seemed to work very well. They feel that it was by far the best selection process they observed, even from the large NGOs and the fairest. They took photos of people, had application forms, they copied identity cards and got people to sign affidavits, they kept good files which they still have. 

iii. They built 72 houses and repaired 4. This a large number compared to any other group they talked to. People were very surprised they could do it.  

iv. Because they were men, they were not allowed to meet the women. Lubna, their sister who was a nurse, visited some areas and was able to help a great deal.

v. It was hard to get used to the different area and they would have finished much earlier apart from the 4 days strike, open fighting between rival political parties, and the Shia festival called Mohhren (the first 9 days of the month they had to stay inside and weren’t allowed to work!) They were more afraid here in Sindh from the Shia Moslems than they were while building amongst the terrorists in the north of the country. 

vi. One day a traffic policeman caught him and threatened to let his tyres down! This cost him a lot of time and little money!

vii. Many of the church members back in their home town were very jealous that these strangers were being helped and they were not getting any assistance with their poor houses. The jealously around this is a possible cause of the robbery they had the day Sobil got back from the trip.

viii. After the meeting with us last year they learned a lot and focused on the poorest of the poor. They were surprised how poor many of these people were. Some would only have one fish a day for the whole family to go with rice and would only eat once a day. 

ix. They lost a lot of the last photos when their laptop and camera were stolen in the robbery.