Pakistan: Relief from the Floods, Project Update
Posted on: Monday, August 30, 2010
Here is an update on MADRE and Shirkat Gah flood relief efforts in Pakistan.
The United Nations has rated the current flooding in Pakistan as the greatest humanitarian crisis in recent history. Twenty million people and over one-fifth of the country's area are affected by rising floodwaters. Already, more people are impacted by the Pakistan floods than were affected by the Southeast Asian tsunami and the recent earthquakes in Kashmir and Haiti combined. And the record monsoon rains that caused rivers to swell are still falling, so need is only likely to increase.
Our friends at Shirkat Gah have been working tirelessly with local communities in the hardest-hit areas to provide relief. Shirkat Gah was one of the first organizations to send field teams to help identify where large groups of displaced people had temporarily settled. They were able to dispatch mobile health units and distribute thousands of packages containing medicines, cooking supplies and a week’s worth of food for a family of six. They were also able to dispatch boats to rescue flood survivors trapped on rooftops and in trees.
“Women Are the Most Vulnerable”
In their assessments, Shirkat Gah has found that women are less likely to have access to food and healthcare facilities. A recent report released by the group states plainly: “women are the most vulnerable in terms of health and food facilities.” Many have lost their chaddars, (headscarves) so they are hesitant to stand in food lines or interact with men who may be assessing needs. They are also reluctant to visit male doctors; one eyewitness interviewed by the BBC said “kids were crying of pain and mothers were begging me to bring them female doctors.” Thus, Shirkat Gah has decided to focus their efforts mainly on women and children. Already, they have identified over 100 pregnant, nursing and disabled women to whom they will be providing targeted care. They are seeking ways to provide emotional and psychological aid to women and children living in the temporary settlements. They have also begun collecting sanitary napkins, trying to locate female doctors and working to identify other needs specific to displaced women.
“They Must Be Stopped”
Our friends at Shirkat Gah have seen that in some regions, militant groups like the Taliban have stepped in to provide flood survivors with clean water, food and shelter. These groups are filling gaps where international aid hasn’t yet been able to reach. People in need don't have the luxury of getting survival essentials from the humanitarian group of their choice, so if a militant group can provide, flood survivors will have no other option but to depend on those groups for aid. This dynamic strengthens ultra-conservative groups who seek to deny women’s basic human rights. Our friends at Shirkat Gah are keeping this troubling complication in mind in all they do. Shirkat Gah’s feelings are very clear: “they must be stopped.”
Concerns About Future Food and Education Shortages
Shirkat Gah is concerned that rural women, who are also farmers in many areas, are being ignored in agricultural surveys. As noted above, many women were uncomfortable giving their views in recent surveys of crop damage on account of having lost their chaddars. And since millions of acres of crops and thousands of heads of livestock have been destroyed, Shirkat Gah is readying its response in the likely case of a famine. Additionally, many flood survivors have been housed in schools that were closed for the summer. As the school year begins, students will be unable to attend classes. Shirkat Gah calls this possibility “a national calamity.”
As the floodwaters in Pakistan continue to rise, our friends at Shirkat Gah are doing everything they can to meet the tremendous needs of women and families caught in the crisis. Even after the waters recede, MADRE’s ally will be there to support local communities, with a special emphasis on women’s needs.
Archives"Press Room" Home October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 July 2006 June 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 April 2005 March 2005 November 2004 October 2004 April 2004 March 2004 January 2004 December 2003 October 2003 September 2003 June 2003 April 2003 January 2003 September 2002 June 2002 January 2002 November 2001 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 January 2001
MADRE & Our Partners Make News
Forbidden Talk - Prostitution in the Middle East (Levant TV, October 7, 2014)
Women's Organizations Fighting Against Gender-Based Violence in Iraq (Girls' Globe, October 1, 2014)
We all know about jihadists, but what about those waging an 'anti-jihad'? (Reuter, October 1, 2014)
Breaking the gridlock of climate change negotiations: learning from allies (openDemocracy, September 29, 2014)
Arab and Jewish midwives find a common language (Haaretz, September 12, 2014)