Some 21 million people, including 9 million children, were affected by the floods which hit Pakistan last July. At their peak, the floods submerged one-fifth of Pakistan and destroyed everything in their path: 1.7 million homes were damaged or destroyed and 5.4 million acres of arable land rendered useless.
In the immediate aftermath of the catastrophe, SOS Children were able to assist more than one million people in districts of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh. We provided 90,000 food parcels, containing 16 million meals, as well as tents and medical kits (including anti-malarial tablets and snake-bite treatments) to those worst affected. Furthermore, children who were orphaned or separated from their relatives by the disaster were offered a safe place to stay in nearby established Children’s Villages.
According to SOS Children CEO Andrew Cates, despite the humanitarian community’s successes in reaching large numbers of people, the flood crisis continues to evolve: "The flood crisis of 2010 remains far from over. Millions remain without food and shelter and are looking at a very uncertain future in relief camps. Millions of others are still waiting for assistance."
The SOS Emergency Relief Programme which offered food, shelter and medicine to Pakistani flood victims ran from August 2010 until March 2011. Since then, our priority has been to focus on helping victims to rebuild their lives and restore their livelihoods.
The rebuilding process begins
After having provided immediate assistance, SOS Children is now committed to helping families to repair and rebuild their demolished homes. We have decided to concentrate our efforts on the Muzaffargarh district in South-western Punjab – an area where there is an urgent need for assistance.
In Muzzaffargarh, approximately 200,000 homes were damaged, 130,000 of which were totally destroyed. To date, only about 15,000 homes have, or are in the process of being rebuilt with the help of the government and other NGOs in the local area. Many families have nowhere to stay and with their land destroyed by the rains, no means to earn a living or produce enough food for subsistence. It is estimated that 250 villages in this area alone have yet to receive any assistance.
SOS Children will help 200 families in four separate villages rebuild their homes from scratch. We will also help families to carry out repairs to houses which have been damaged by the floods so that they can move back home and begin to return to some degree of normality. Below, you can read how SOS Children is helping Ramazan and his family from Muzzaffargarh rebuild their home and have some hope for the future.
Since the devastating floods came and destroyed his home and village, Ramazan, 55, and his family have been living in a tent, depending on daily food parcels and aid. But finally, Ramazan can at look forward to moving back home thanks to SOS Children who have begun the reconstruction of his community.
Every morning for the past forty years, Ramazan has woken up and headed out into the nearby fields to work. At an old age, the hard work has been taking an increasingly heavy toll, so for the last few years; the help of his son has relieved him of the most arduous tasks.
But Ramazan cannot rely on his son anymore. In a desperate attempt to salvage some of his family’s belongings, Ramazan’s son, Khuda, 28, drowned in the flood waters. His three sisters and their four children survived. “Everything was swept away by the floods, everything is gone. The sugar cane, the wheat and even my son. It has all disappeared” says Ramazan.
In July 2010, the muddy waters inundated his community of Athar Wala in Muzaffargarh. The river, normally several kilometres away from his home, was at his doorstep. Ramazan spent several days removing tons of mud from inside his house. Aside from a few household items, all his belongings had been taken by the flood. Slowly and with much difficulty, he and his neighbours helped to dig each other out.
For a month Ramazan, his wife and his family lived on the mounds of sand that had accumulated, as the water level had risen to several metres above ground level. Mourning the loss of their beloved son, Ramazan and his family waited patiently for days for the rescue helicopters to show up, which would throw down food packages.
“Winter has passed and it was very cold. We have received food, what we need now is shelter. We are living in tents. Somehow we managed the winters but the summer heat is unbearable. SOS Children’s Villages has begun the reconstruction of our village and for that we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.”
Ramazan's family is just one of many who will receive help from SOS Children to rebuild or restore their homes. Once families are able to move back home, SOS Children will continue to help families with food and income assistance until they are able to rebuild their livelihoods.
SOS Children's Villages Pakistan
At present, there are eight SOS Children's Villages in Pakistan, six SOS Youth Homes, seven SOS Schools, five SOS Vocational Training Centres, five SOS Social Centres and one SOS Medical Centre. A further four SOS Children’s Villages are under construction.
If you would like to help us continue to help rebuild lives in Pakistan, donate here, or consider sponsoring a child in Pakistan. Children who were orphaned or lost due to the disaster have been offered permanent homes in our SOS Children's Villages. The crisis remains far from over and we are appealing for more sponsors to help us reach these children.